Tuesday, June 17 2014, 07:20 AM EDT
USA Defeats Ghana in World Cup
A late header from substitute John Brooks saw the United States claim all three points from their Group G opener as they defeated Ghana 2-1 in Natal.
Clint Dempsey gave the U.S. the perfect start, winding his way through the Ghana defence before firing in off the far post with only 31 seconds played -- the fastest goal in the nation's World Cup history -- as they looked to avenge their round of 16 defeat to the Black Stars in 2010.
Jozy Altidore could have doubled that advantage when receiving a pass in the area on 19 minutes, but his shot was blocked.
That proved to be the Sunderland striker's last contribution as a hamstring injury forced him out of the game and potentially out of the tournament. His absence would see the U.S. reduced to a 22-man squad for the remainder of the World Cup; FIFA rules prevent any replacements being called in at this stage.
Ghana might have levelled on the stroke of half-time when Christian Atsu raced down the right flank before finding Jordan Ayew, but the Marseille forward's side-footed finish was tame.
However, it was a sign of things to come as, in the second half, Ghana began to lay siege to the U.S. goal. Asamoah Gyan was presented with a prime opportunity to level with just over an hour played but, as he turned to shoot inside the area, Geoff Cameron was able to make the block.
The U.S. were able to punctuate the pressure with the occasional chance of their own but an equaliser duly arrived on 82 minutes, when Gyan's clever backheel allowed Andre Ayew the space to find the net.
Jurgen Klinsmann's men reacted instantly: Graham Zusi sent over a corner for fellow substitute Brooks to head home and restore their lead on 86 minutes to secure a valuable victory.
Photo: Clint Dempsey celebrates after netting the opener inside the first minute. Courtesy Associated Press
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