sport

USA claim win over Ghana

Substitute John Brooks' late header gave the USA a 2-1 win over Ghana in Monday's World Cup Group G clash in Natal.

Ghana were the dominant force in the match but ended up empty handed and are now facing an uphill battle to qualify for the last 16, with games against Germany and Portugal still to come.

For the States, it was a case of third time lucky having lost 2-1 to Ghana at both of the previous two editions of the tournament in Germany and South Africa.

After just 29 seconds, Clint Dempsey tricked his way past centre-back John Boye and opened the scoring, for the fifth fastest goal in World Cup finals history.

Ghana piled on the pressure, with Sulley Muntari pulling the strings in midfield, but were unable to find a way past USA goalkeeper Tim Howard until the 82nd minute. Andre Ayew played a one-two with Asamoah Gyan before smashing the ball past Howard.

However, just four minutes later, Jurgen Klinsmann's men regained their lead as Brooks - a half-time replacement for the injured Matt Besler - headed down Graham Zusi's corner and saw the ball bounce past Adam Kwarasey.

A month's worth of rain had fallen in Natal in the days leading up to this encounter at Estadio das Dunas (Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0 at the same venue in saturated conditions on Friday) and the match was not even a minute old when Dempsey made the breakthrough.

Collecting a Jermaine Jones flick, he showed excellent skill and poise to cut away from Boye and drive home.

The goal was a sucker punch and one which left Ghana understandably stunned, with Jozy Altidore wasting a glorious chance to double the United States' advantage with 19 minutes on the clock.

It proved to be the Sunderland striker's last contribution, as running down the flank he pulled up holding his hamstring and had to be taken off on a stretcher.

Christian Atsu curled a strike wide and Gyan saw a fine effort saved by Howard as Ghana finally began to come into a match which was halted when Boye gave Dempsey a bloodied nose with a high boot.

Jordan Ayew spurned a great chance to level with a scuffed shot in first-half stoppage time and, when the teams emerged for the second half, Brooks replaced Besler after the defender complained of tightness in his hamstring.

It was another injury blow to a USA side now under the cosh, with Atsu wasting a fine chance before Muntari sent a fizzing strike just wide from outside the box.

Gyan powered a close-range header over as they continued to up the ante, with the former Sunderland striker soon forcing Howard into action with another header on goal, this time from 18 yards.

Atsu, Gyan, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Kwadwo Asamoah all had efforts as Akwasi Appiah's side continued their search for a leveller, which came eight minutes from time.

After a poor second-half showing, the USA could have no complaints as Gyan superbly back heeled into the path for Andre Ayew, who took a touch and fired home brilliantly with the outside of his boot.

It looked to secure a deserved point for Ghana, only for poor defending to render it meaningless as an unmarked Brooks headed home four minutes from time.