Featured / Local

Ghana 1 – 1 Chile: Match journal

Because Wednesday night’s Ghana v Chile friendly at PPL Park was not televised, we thought we’d try something other than a traditional match report to give you a better sense of the game, something more along the lines of a live chat.

6:20pm: Welcome to PPL Park on a cold and blustery Wednesday evening for tonight’s friendly between Ghana and Chile.

Fans are slowly beginning to file to PPL Park and the Chilean supporters immediately begin to boo and whistle the Ghanaian players as they come out for warm-ups, not a lot of folks in here so far but the ones that made it out are in full voice with 40 minute to go until kickoff. The crowd will be excited to see Alexis Sanchez, Humberto Suazo and Matias Fernandez all starting for Chile. Ghana will feature John Pantsil, who will captain the side, along with Sulley Muntari and MLS’ own Dominic Oduro. Chicago Fire’s other Ghanaian, Patrick Nyarko will start the match on the bench.

6:30pm: With the added requirements of two countries worth of media, us local guys have been slid over into “Local Media Overflow”. Can’t really complain about the accommodations and I’m sitting next to my pal and co-host of the “KYW Philly Soccer Show”, Greg Orlandini. We’re scouring the internet for highlights from both US victories on the day as we wait for kickoff, including the USMNT’s huge 1-0 victory over Italy and the USWNT’s Algarve Cup demolition of Denmark, 5-0.

6:34pm: The Chileans are now out warming up, to a hearty ovation. They have ten yoga mats set up on the near touchline, looking forward to see what those are used for. So far they seem to have far more support than Ghana, but there is still time for stadium to fill out to fill out. PPL Park just isn’t the same with an empty River End, but fans have been give the option to sit on the touchlines and they have happily obliged.

6:55pm: Still probably less than 30% in here, but the Ghanaians are really starting to find their voice. It’s a great atmosphere all around the park, which is a good thing, because it is freezing. Shouldn’t be too long now before we get this party started.

6:59pm: Out march the sets of players. Impressive list of dignitaries being listed, but between those names, the starting lineup announcements and the national anthems, the players are looking very, very chilly as they shift back and forth, jogging in place. The singing of the national anthems makes its clear that Chile has brought way more support as Chilean flags are unrolled all around the ground.

Ghana will be wearing all white kits, which look really classy, while Chile will sport their traditional red shirts with blue shorts and white socks. Speaking of kit, what’s with the new US away kit? Very disappointing.

7:12pm: Finally the formalities are over and we’re ready to begin.

And we’re off. Lineups are as follows.

Chile

Claudio Bravo (C), Osvaldo Gonzalez, Marco Gonzalez, Jose Rojas, Charles Aranguiz, Gary Medel, Marcelo Diaz, Matias Campos Toro, Matias Fernandez, Alexis Sanchez.

Substitutes, Miguel Pinto, Lucas Dominquez, Luis Casanova, Braulio Leal, Rodrigo Millar, Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, Cristobal Jorquera, Eugenio Mena, Eduardo Vargas, Junior Fernandes.

Ghana

Adam Kwarasey, John Pantsil (C), Masahudu Alhassan, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Anthony Annan, Derek Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah, Sulley Muntari, Dominic Oduro, Emmanuel Baffour.

Substitutes, Daniel Opare, Lee Addy, Afriyie Acquah, Richard Mpong, Patrick Nyarko, Abdul Naris, Daniel Agyei.

7:13pm: Those early tackles are looking painful in this weather. It’s also begun to mist pretty heavily, the combination of hard ground with a slick coating is going to make it tough on the players all night. Both teams are trying to find a rhythm as they knock the ball around. Humberto Suazo picks Annan’s pocket, but cannot gather possession and fouls Derek Boateng, who plays for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine. Suazo is playing highest for Chile with Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez and Sporting Lisbon’s Matias Fernandez roaming around behind him in the early going.

7:17pm: All in the middle of the pitch at the moment. Fernandez tries to spring Sanchez but over-hits his through ball. Both sides look frenetic as Sanchez almost releases Suazo. Good composure from Ghana to clear their lines. John Boye and Jonathan Mensah, the centerback pairing for Ghana is going to be up against it all night from the looks of things. A brief spell of Ghanaian pressure comes to nothing and Chile is right back after it. Every touch of the ball is LOUD, sounds like they’re kicking a rock. Probably feels that way, too.

In the 8th minute, Marco Gonzalez runs over Udinese’s Kwadwo Asamoah for a dangerous free kick. Asamoah serves and former Fulham, current Leicester City player, John Pantsil, beats the offside trap and should have put his side up, but pounds his header into Bravo’s gut.

7:21pm: Ghana’s tails are up after that chance and they almost have another sight of goal on a weak back pass that goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is alert to race out for. Ghana is favoring the left flank for attack and Baffour does well to release Asamoah, whose cross is knocked behind for a corner.

Ghana again wins a header in the box, but it falls harmlessly into the waiting arms of Bravo.

7:25pm: Sanchez looking strong on the ball as he has moves left to find space. The build is strong, but Charles Aranguiz’s cross is well headed out. Other than Suazo up top, the rest of the Chilean attack is rotating freely. 15th minute and Ghana again struggling to contain Sanchez as he spins once and twice before being brought down. Vicious forearm from Gary Medel to the side of Sulley Muntari’s head. Surprised that no action was taken, but good on the ref for keeping this one moving.

7:29pm: Shame for the MLS man, Oduro, he is subbed off in the 18th minute for Richard Mpong. He looks alright, wonder what happened there. Tough way to end your international debut. Fernandez standing over a dangerous free kick for Chile after Sanchez was again brought down.  The first defensive header is unconvincing, but Adam Kwarasey eventually punches clear. Chile growing well into the match, starting with six players sitting deep and building slowly.

Just as I say that, Ghana counters and Mpong’s low driven service is almost cheekily back-heeled home by Asamoah.

7:33pm: Somehow Chile contrives to miss a perfect chance. Fernandez runs around his man and feeds Suazo who is in alone, but trips on the ball, which was slightly behind him, yet still manages to play back to Fernandez who has his shot deflected behind with the empty net gaping. Should have been 1-0 there. The corner comes to nothing. The sky is really starting to open up now.

Another chance for Chile! Chile again should be up as Sanchez plays his winger in behind, but rather than shoot, his square ball to Suazo is cut out. Should have had a shot there, as he was in all alone.

7:37pm: Boateng is the first player to earn a yellow card as he freaks out at the referee. Muntari was dragged down, but play was waved on and Boateng blew a gasket. He looked to have a reasonable complaint, though his reaction was clearly out of bounds. Captain Pantsil calms him down and has some choice words for the match official as he returns to his spot in defense.

Matias Campos Toro again takes Muntari down, this time in the box. Only a corner as Chile are living dangerously out of the back. Bravo out well to claim the wet ball off the corner and end the danger.

7:41pm: Big save from Kwarasey keeps it level. Sanchez again was the catalyst and Aranguiz dove acrobatically to get his head to the ball. Chile piling on the pressure now with two consecutive corners, but cannot find a finish. Respite for Ghana as Boateng is clattered and earns the free kick.

Ghana cannot find a pressure release at the moment as Sanchez is all action and at the heart of all that Chile does. The breakthrough is coming, it would seem, as the rain continues to pour down.

7:45pm: Into the book goes Mensah as he comes through Sanchez’s back for a very cynical foul. Sanchez is up but gingerly, that was a crunching tackle. Fernandez pumps it into the mixer, but Medel’s header lacks venom and lands on the roof of the net.

Ghana complaining that Sanchez is getting too many calls, though they’re not helping their cause by clipping ankles and initiating too much contact all over the pitch. Muntari goes down a little cheaply, but earns the free kick, perhaps a make up call there.

Muntari to serve, but instead tries a shot from distance that misses everything.

7:49pm: With 5 minutes left in the half it’s end to end stuff as both sides look for a lead they can take into the half. Perhaps it’s the rain, but the touches in the final third have been exceedingly poor from both sides. Plenty of counterattacking chances for Ghana, as again Muntari is brought down, this time too far for an absurd shooting option.

GOAL FOR GHANA!! And there’s a breakthrough, though its not to the side who you would have expected to earn it. And it’s  the substitute, Richard Mpong. Chile fell asleep and Mpong was slipped in by a superb ball from Muntari and Mpong finished smartly with his first touch, burying the shot past a sprawling Bravo. It was a great goal and should open up the second half of this contest.

7:53pm: Chile looks stunned by the goal and have only a few minutes to mount a reply before the break, as they begin to throw numbers forward. Sanchez almost plays Suazo in behind, but the ball skids safely into the waiting arms of Kwarasey, on a dry day that might have held up.

And that’s the half: Ghana 1 – 0 Chile

7:57pm: What an entertaining first half of soccer here in Chester! The weather hasn’t done a thing to dampen the spirit of this contest with both sides looking well up for it. While quality in the final third has been lacking, there has been a great pace and physicality to the first half with both sides having a number of quality chances.

For Ghana, Richard Mpong did well to jump right into the fray and score Ghana’s goal. Sulley Muntari and Kwadwo Asamoah have been the creative dangermen, with Derek Boateng putting in a robust performance as a holding midfielder.

Chile has had more than their fair share of chances, with Alexis Sanchez in fine form playing straight through the middle. Matias Fernandez and Gary Medel have also been influential, but Humberto Suazo has looked on a different page all night and the broken linkage between the midfield and their lone striker has caused problems for the South Americans.

8:20pm: This is an inordinately long halftime, going on 25 minutes. The players are still not back out on the pitch. It will be interesting to see if Ghanaian coach Goran Stefanovic and Chilean coach Claudio Borghi pull their stars or go for the victory on this raw night, especially with a halftime that will be near 30 minutes once play finally resumes.

8:26pm: Chile has been out and waiting for a few minutes now. They have warmed up and are saluting the fans, still no sign of Ghana. Now they’re saluting the fans and are running off? Did they just call the game? Everyone is very confused looking at an empty pitch.

8:30pm: And now Ghana is out and they look ready to go, but this time Chile is nowhere to be found. There still has been no announcement as to whats going on as the halftime creeps towards 35 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Chile saluted their fans and looked like they were done for the night.

Wait, the refs are wandering out, we might have a second half after all.

And here comes Chile back onto the pitch. This is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.

8:34pm: 39 minutes after the half ended, the second half is finally underway!

Immediate controversy as Suazo clearly throws and elbows Mensah clear in the face. Somehow Suazo wins the free kick and Mensah is beside himself trying to understand that decision, as well he should be.

Chile attacks quickly and as Fernandez cuts in from the right, he is clattered to the ground. As Ghana sets the wall, Chile takes it quickly and sprays a low shot just wide of Kwarasey’s goal. Close call there as the Chileans are looking for a spark to get them onto the scoreboard.

Patrick Nyarko, who came on at half goes in the book for a wild lunge in the 48th minute.

The second half is off to a roaring start.

8:38pm: Nyarko then plays substitute Daniel Opare into the Chilean box, but his dive earns a well-deserved yellow and a huge cheer goes out from the largely pro-Chilean crowd. On the counter, Mensah completely cleans out Sanchez with another violent and cynical tackle, He’s lucky to stay on the pitch. Matias Campos Toro earns a yellow card in the ensuing melee for what looked like a headbutt thrown at John Pantsil. Chippy doesn’t begin to describe the first 10 minutes of this second half as both players could have easily been given their marching papers after that little display.

Chile coming in waves now, but Ghana is defending resolutely in the back.

8:42pm: It’s breathless, end to end stuff as both sides spurn chances to go in alone on the keeper and in the 54th, Nyarko is lucky to avoid an ejection with a second studs up challenge.

As Chile break, Suazo again overcooks his effort. He’s been poor on the night and has squandered the excellent creative work of his midfield.

56th minute, Eduardo Vargas, the Napoli man, replaces Aranguiz.

8:46pm: Save of the game from Kwarasey in the 57th. Sanchez intercepts a pass and is off to the races, before playing in Suazo. His return pass is fanned on by Vargas, but falls to Sanchez in acres of space but Kwarasey saves the day. On the resulting corner, Marco Gonzalez finds space for a free header, but power it over the bar. Terrible finishing from the Chileans.

The rain is still pouring down as Lucas Dominguez replaces Jose Rojas.

It’s been all Chile in the second half, but they have yet to carve out an equalizer. Ghana is fouling with nearly every challenge and must be careful with four players carrying cautions.

8:50pm: Ghana almost doubles the lead!! Out of nothing, Asamoah pounced on a loose ball on the right side of the box and curled his effort past a helpless Bravo only to see it rebound off the far post. Would have been completely against the run of play for the Ghanaians, but it was still unlucky as the shot was beautifully taken.

The effort has energized Ghana, as they are keeping the ball better over the last couple of minutes, until Nyarko runs over a Chilean defender to end a strong spell of possession. He’s living dangerously.

8:54pm: Kwarasey to the rescue again! Toro’s cross lands at the feet of Fernandez, but he sees his nearpost blast well saved by the Ghanaian keeper. It’s all hands on deck for Ghana again, as their brief spell of dominance is over.

Chile again make a mess of an odd man break, with the move petering out in a Sanchez layoff to Marcelo Diaz, whose drive is high and wide.

8:58pm: Ejection. And the red card this game has been waiting for has arrived. Matias Campos Toro’s latest reckless challenge earns him an early shower. Interesting twist to the game. You’d have expected the red to come for Ghana and it will be interesting to see if Chile can keep up the pressure down a man.

Muntari almost wriggles free in the box and the clearance falls to Afriyie Acquah whose effort flew high into the River End.

In the 72nd Junior Fernandes mercifully replaces the completely ineffective Humberto Suazo.

9:02pm: The match has lost all structure at the moment, with both sides going on marauding runs at will. Pressure here on the break from Chile…

And Chile finally has their chance! Matias Fernandez burst into the box and was kept out with a beautiful saving tackle which only fell as far as Sanchez, who was dragged down in the box. Clear penalty.

GOAL! Fernandez sends Kwarasey the wrong way and buries the penalty kick to level the scores.

15 minutes left and all to play for now. Ghana 1 – 1 Chile.

77th minute Abdul Naris comes on for the goalscorer Mpong, himself a substitute.

9:06pm: Fernandez picks Boateng’s pocket and is off to the races, but Ghana get back well to snuff out the threat. They’re still in the ascendancy Chile, despite being down a man. Sanchez is still getting the rough treatment but after getting the penalty call, the referee elects to wave play on for his next two appeals, probably the right decision.

Terrible miss from Muntari! Nyarko powered into the box and laid it off for Muntari who had an open look from the penalty spot, but somehow managed to scuff his effort over the bar with either side of the net open.

Next it’s Chile on the counter as Sanchez gets in behind, but the lofted ball skids through to the out-rushing Kwarasey, who had to be alert there.

9:10pm: Despite the numeric disadvantage, Chile look as likely as Ghana to take this one.

There’s a brief delay as Baffour stays on the ground too long with a knock on the ankle. The Chilean fans are really letting him hear it.

When play finally resumes in the 85th, Sanchez charges down a soft pass back to Kwarasey but can only deflect the ball away from goal.

9:14pm: Both sides appear to be running out of gas as a couple clumsy fouls slow the tempo down. In the 88th, Chile brings on Braulio Leal to replace Gary Medel who has thrown his body around with the best of them on the night.

9:18 pm:Corner to Ghana in the 90th minute. Taken short and comes to nothing, but now Ghana is cranking up the pressure to try and win it. It’s all sloppy though and in the end Chile earns a free kick 10 yards inside of the attacking half. Pantsil finally gets a caution for dissent towards the referee. He is the captain, but his aggression and wild gesticulations are clearly over the top.

And now it seem the referee has thrown out a Ghanaian assistant. He’s refusing to restart the match until he is off the pitch. The Ghana bench is livid. Despite being up a man, the officiating has seemed tilted against them over these last 15 minutes. Though, not enough to end such an even contest with such anger.

And that’s it!

9:22pm: Thanks for joining me on this wet and wild evening at PPL Park.

In the end, the 1-1 result is fair, though it could just as easily be 4-4. Chile were the better side, but Humberto Suazo’s off night poisoned many of their best opportunities. Credit to the South American’s for finding a second gear, and an equalizer, after having a player ejected. Ghana will rue a series of missed chances, but they were mostly against the run of the game, as Ghana finish with an amazing 23 fouls and 5 yellow cards.

For Chile, the Barcelona man, Alexis Sanchez, was the clear stand out, constantly driving play forward and looking dangerous every time the ball was at his feet. Matias Fernandez, the goalscorer, was also supremely important for Chile, not just due to his smartly taken penalty.

For Ghana, goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was the consistent savior. Asamoah, Muntari, Boatend and Mensah deserve credit for a robust display, but in the end, were it not for Kwarasey, this contest could have gotten out of hand.

7 Comments

  1. Richie The Limey says:

    Strangest – HT – ever.

    Oh yeah, and just about the worst, most inconsistent display of refereeing I have ever witnessed. And I watch MLS referees !

    Nice report – thanks.

  2. This was a great match. It had everything, fouls, weather, tackles, people sent off, goals, near goals, great fan support. One of the most fun matches I have witnessed in a while.

    I cannot stress how awesome and cool the fans from Ghana and Chile were.

  3. Wish I had been there…; fun report to read!

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    The weather turned me off (to bad the game wasn’t tonight!) I did hear from someone at the game that the reason for the delay at the half was that the Ghana team management wanted to be paid before taking the field for the second half. When Chile heard about that, they wanted to get paid too. Not sure what the result of this was.

  5. most fun game i’ve seen in a while. glad i decided to stand in the rain and watch it. had essentially the whole river end to ourselves as the rest of the crowd squeezed in under the roofs. stoked to have seen both of these teams and their supporters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

%d bloggers like this: