Uruguay vs. Ghana 2010: One of the Greatest Games in World Cup History?

Sean Hartnett@HartnettWFANCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 02:  Asamoah Gyan of Ghana reacts as he misses a late penalty kick in extra time to win the match during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Quarter Final match between Uruguay and Ghana at the Soccer City stadium on July 2, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Those who were fortunate enough to witness the quarterfinal match between Uruguay and Ghana were treated to unprecedented drama at the Soccer City Stadium.  The millions watching worldwide huddled around their televisions or streaming internet broadcasts also were leaping off of their seats watching this incredible event.

This game simply had everything.  There were plenty of opportunities for either side and both barely missed burying their chances, adding to the tension of the match.  Ghana were able to control most of the possession at 57 percent and registered 26 shots compared to Urugay's 14.  The match itself seemed to be a bit more even than the statistics shown.

When the goals did come, they were worth the wait.  A perfectly placed long shot from Sulley Muntari was scored just before halftime giving Ghana the edge going into the break.  Diego Forlán answered back curling in a free kick for Uruguay in the 55th minute to even the match at 1-1.

Neither team looked capable of going ahead once the game went to extra-time, as tired legs led to both teams spurning chances.  In the second portion of extra-time, the game looked a bit for lively, but still Forlán and Ghana's Stephen Appiah missed putting their respective countries ahead.

The real excitement came in a frenzied moment just before the end of extra-time.  Ghana's players unleashed a flurry of shots within the box, but were twice cleared off the line by Uruguay's defenders.  Luis Suárez gave himself up for the team and was sent off for swatting the ball down to save his team from what would have surely been a losing goal.

Up stepped Asamoah Gyan, who carried the weight of his county on his shoulders as he approached the penalty spot.  The Ghanaian striker drilled the shot, but struck the crossbar as the inconsolable Suárez was suddenly given a second life as he celebrated with his teammates.  The whistle blew and the unjust drama that is the penalty shootout got underway.

Forlán stepped up first and confidently put away the opening penalty.  Gyan redeemed himself as he put away Ghana's first attempt into the top-right corner.  Mauricio Victorino then clinically scored the next penalty putting Uruguay up 2-1.  Appiah then responded by tying the affair. Andrés Scotti hit a low drive drive down the middle to again give Uruguay the edge. 

John Mensah then took a very poor attempt that was easily dealt with by Fernando Muslera.  Maxi Pereira blasted the shot about twenty rows back in the following penalty.  Dominic Adiyiah's attempt was saved, giving Uruguay the chance to end the closely contested affair.  Up stepped Sebastián Abreu, who coolly chipped the winner past Richard Kingson to put Uruguay through to the semifinals!

For those who weren't able to see it live, it was an absolutely stunning match to witness.  Fire up your tape recorders and DVRs because this one was an instant classic that will go down World Cup history.  Such heartbreak for the Ghanaians who were carrying the hopes of Africa and have fought hard to make it this far.

The streets of Montevideo and all of Uruguay must be going insanely mad as their countrymen's victory was won in such dramatic fashion. What a match!