Germany and Ghana served up another World Cup cracker as they played out a 2-2 draw in Fortaleza on Saturday.
Germany looked primed to carry on their merry way when Mario Goetze put them in front shortly after half-time. But two goals in the space of nine minutes from Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan turned the contest on its head.
Joachim Low made changes for Germany, and it paid off, as Miroslav Klose climbed off the bench to snatch a point with a goal that took him to the top of the all-time World Cup goalscoring charts.
Ghana needed to come out in a positive manner after losing their opener to USA, and they made an early statement of intent with a sharp break.
A raking ball from Sulley Muntari picked out Christian Atsu. He aimed a low cross toward Gyan, but he had a shadow in the shape of Per Mertesacker, who did enough to force the Ghana forward to shoot wide.
Despite the fact that Germany lacks an attacking striker, their options at the position are impressive. They interchange at will, and on 12 minutes, Thomas Mueller demonstrated great awareness to flick a backheel into the path of Toni Kroos. The change of direction opened up a bit of space, but Kroos’ shot was charged down.
Atsu was Ghana’s brightest spark against USA and he was impressive again versus Germany. Picking up the ball on the right, he cut inside and lashed a shot that was beaten away by Manuel Neuer.
Mueller’s movement was a joy to watch, and he engineered half a yard of space to get on the end of a low cross, but John Boye did superbly to get back and force the ball out.
Muntari has scored some cracking long-range goals down the years, and he let fly from 30 yards, with his effort forcing a diving save from Neuer.
Germany struggled to fashion clear-cut chances. On 41 minutes, Muller got free on the left and delivered the sort of ball that Germany would have wanted Muller on the end of. Unfortunately, Goetze was the man in the middle and he was slightly on his heels—the chance went begging.
Goetze just failed to get on the end of a Muller cross shortly before the interval, but six minutes after half-time he made no mistake.
It wasn’t the cleanest goal Goetze will ever score, with him heading the ball onto his right knee before it went in to the net, but the cross was so good he could not really miss.
Dirtiest of finishes from Gotze but a lovely cross from Muller— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) June 21, 2014
Germany’s lead lasted a matter of minutes. Ayew showed great strength to beat his marker, Shkodran Mustafi, to Harrison Afful’s cross and power a header beyond Neuer.
Germany, so assured against Portugal, suddenly looked fallible, and they fell behind on 63 minutes.
Philipp Lahm, normally so good in possession, gifted the ball to Muntari. He played in Gyan, who rifled a shot across Neuer and into the corner.
Minutes later, a sizzling Ghana almost grabbed a third. A brilliant break saw Kwadwo Asamoah whip in a cross that was within an inch of picking out Ayew.
Germany manager Low turned to Klose, and within a matter of minutes, he was on hand to net a record-equalling goal with his first touch.
A corner was flicked on, and at the far post, Klose stuck out a right boot to grab his 15th World Cup goal—taking him level with Brazil great Ronaldo.
Low's tactics have been very impressive so far in this competition. Changes formation in 1st game, super subs in 2nd.— Stefan Bienkowski (@SBienkowski) June 21, 2014
Germany came on strong in the final 10 minutes, but great pieces of defending from Asamoah and Jonathan Mensah denied Muller and Mesut Ozil, while Klose shot wide in the final minute.
There was a moment of worry shortly before the end, as Mueller was left in a pool of blood after going for a header but picked himself up after lengthy treatment.
The draw means the qualifying spots in Group G will go down to the final round of games.
Germany remain favourites, and a win over USA will take them through as group winners. But with USA and Portugal still to play their second game, plenty of permutations remain open.
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Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah spoke to the BBC immediately after the game and was both proud and frustrated.
It was a great game. Germany is a big team, so our boys did well to match them. We created a lot of chances but unfortunately could not utilise our chances.
We were really determined to fight to the end. On the whole it was a very good game.