GHANA 2-2 BENIN: Ayew sets national record as 10-man Black Stars earn a point in AFCON opener

Andre Ayew became Ghana’s all-time goal scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) when he scored an equalizer for the Black Stars in their 2019 AFCON opener at the tournament in Egypt.

The former Swansea man struck in the 9th minute to record his 9th goal at the continental showdown surpassing the record of Asamoah Gyan (8). The Ghana skipper celebrated with Gyan who started the game on the bench for the 1982 AFCON champions. His brother Jordan also got on the score sheet but their goals were cancelled out by Benin’s Mikeal Pote, who scored a brace.

The Turkish based striker opened the scoring with a fine finish in the second minute of the game before goals from Ghana skipper Andre Ayew and his brother Jordan edged the game in favour of the 4-time AFCON Champions. The Black Stars were reduced to 10 men in the second half before Pote rounded up the goal scoring with a scrappy goal.

The Squirrels of Benin got off to a flying start pressing right from kick-off. Their attacking intent was so obvious right from the first minute and it was not surprising that they scored the opener in the first few minutes. Pote got on the end of a delightful through ball and raced in on goal. He skillfully beat the defender chasing him before stabbing the ball into the goal with his right foot.

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The Black Stars got back into the game within the first 10 minutes and managed to complete a few passes in the midfield. Partey pulled the strings and linked the attackers with the defenders and their play soon paid off. The Atletico Madrid man picked out Jordan Ayew in the box and the Crystal Palace man brought the ball down brilliantly deflecting off a defender, his brother Ayew picked op the loose ball and found the bottom corner of the goal.

The black stars had an injury scare in the first half after goalkeeper Ofori went down after a mild collision with Pote following a corner kick. The shot-stopper who plays for Maritzburg United in the South African Premier Soccer League needed treatment on the pitch from the medical team but he got back on his feet to marshall the Ghanaian defence.

Ghana’s Jordan Ayew celebrates scoring their second goal.

Ghana were forced to make a substitution in the first half when Thomas Agyepong picked up an injury before the break. His exit was a shining light for Čukarički star, Samuel Owusu who came off the bench to make his debut for the four-time African champions. His introduction did not have any adverse effect on the team spirit as Ghana went ahead a few minutes later.

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Jordan Ayew eventually put Ghana ahead with a sublime finish after he capitalized on the inexperience of the Benin defenders. He was played through on goal and his beautiful turn confused the defender, leaving him on the ground helplessly with a perfect view of the goal. Jordan beat the goalkeeper at his near post, blasting the ball into the roof of the net.

Benin began the second half the same way they started the first. The Squirrels put the Black Stars under intense pressure and began to create chances in the final third. Their pressure paid off as Ghana defender John Boye was sent off for a second yellow card picked up following a foul. Benin got the equalizer within minutes of Boye’s exit through their main man, Mikael Pote.

Andre Ayew fires in Ghana’s equaliser.

Ghana continued to press for the winner with Thomas Partey pulling the string and coming closest with a freekick. Benin goalkeeper, Farnolle was forced to make several saves keeping the Black Stars out.

The Squirrels employed a counter-attacking system of play despite having a one-man advantage but they did not look like they would get the winner before the clock ran out.

There were attempts from Ghana and Benin but both sides were solid in defence to ensure that they earned a point in their opener at the 2019 tournament.

Ghana face the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Saturday for their second group F game to set up a repeat of the 2017 AFCON semi-finals. The Cameroonians emerged victorious in that encounter on their way to claiming the title. The Black Stars will be hoping for revenge as they know that a victory would guarantee their spot in the knockout stages. Benin would take on the Djurtus of Guinea-Bissau to improve their chances of qualification.

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