Ghana scored two goals late in the first half and added another in the second to earn a 3-0 victory over Iraq in the third-place match at the U-20 World Cup.
FINAL- Ghana 3, Iraq 0. Well-deserved bronze medal for Ghana, but Iraq definitely deserves credit for an outstanding tournament.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) July 13, 2013
Neither side wasted any time getting involved in the match. A quick pace was set, as, within the first five minutes, there were dangerous rushes going both ways and even a few chances for Iraq to grab an early lead. But it couldn't convert.
The first came on a cross from Ammar Abdul-Hussein Al-Asadi, who delivered a very nice low cross. None of his teammates could get on the other end of it, though. Then, a couple of minutes, later Jawad Kadhim had a promising look and sent it wide off a header.
Iraq with 2 early chances, Ghana defence all over the place #U20WC— Kanyiri Wanye (@KanWanye) July 13, 2013
After that initial surge, the teams seemed to settle in. While the pace remained, the defenders were able to thwart more of the attacks before scoring chances were created.
Still, with the two sides moving up and down the pitch, it was only a matter of time before one broke through. Ghana did exactly that in the 35th minute, as Joseph Attamah headed home a picture-perfect corner from Moses Odjer to take the 1-0 lead.
While the defending on the set piece was lackluster, Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed failed to take charge at the back and got caught in between. Credit Attamah for taking advantage of the breakdown.
The Black Satellites were able to stretch the lead to 2-0 just before the halftime whistle. They caught a break when a failed pass attempt bounced right into the path of Ebenezer Assifuah, who broke to the outside and ripped a shot into the far corner.
It was a disheartening way to end the half for Iraq. It could have easily jumped out to an early lead. Instead, a couple bounces went Ghana's way late in the opening 45, and the squad took advantage of both.
Iraq never fully recovered. As you'd expect, Ghana took on more of a mindset in the second half in an attempt to hold the lead. Although Iraq was able to generate some opportunities, it struggled to find the necessary final touch.
Ali Fayez unleashed a laser of a free kick just a few minutes after the break. It could have changed the complexion of the match had it found the net, but Richard Ofori was able to fight it off.
From the free kick for Iraq, struck well, punched away by Ofori then collects 47' Ghana 2- 0 Iraq #u20worldcup— George-Patrick (@gpbediaku) July 13, 2013
Who was the Man of the Match?
The chances kept coming for Iraq, as the Black Satellites became content to keep extra players behind the ball. Ali Adnan couldn't get his shot off in time after breaking free in the box for a moment. Humam Tariq used a strong individual effort to get open for a long-range chance, but he couldn't beat Ofori.
Frustration began to build for Iraq as it continued to squander opportunities to get back in the match. It started to push even further forward, and with more potential reward comes more risk.
Ghana took advantage. With just over 10 minutes remaining in the match, the squad counterattacked and Frank Acheampong scored to put the game out of reach. He provided a clinical finish despite a defender pressuring him on the inside.
The Black Satellites held on for the 3-0 victory. It wasn't the result Iraq was hoping for after coming within penalty kicks of reaching the tournament final. Still, making a run all the way to the semifinals is worthy of praise.
Ghana lost its first two matches of the event and managed to rebound to win third place—a tremendous turnaround and a very strong performance in the consolation match top it off. It was the stronger side in the latter stages of the first half, and that's all it took to get the win.
In the end, Ghana takes third place and Iraq finishes a respectable fourth.