Ghana won an exhilarating match packed with twists and turns against South Korea in front of a vibrant crowd at the Education City Stadium in Qatar.
A 10-minute spell in the first half by the African nation gave them a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu and Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus.
However, noisy celebrations by Ghana fans at halftime were dampened by a South Korea comeback after the break.
Two stunning headers in three minutes from Cho Gue-sung, the top scorer in his domestic league, levelled the game after 61 minutes.
But the impressive Kudus, who had deftly headed in Jordan Ayew’s cross in the first half, added a final twist when he thumped in a third for Ghana to break South Korea’s hearts.
Chances continued to fall South Korea’s way as they searched for another equaliser but, despite 10 minutes of added time, Ghana held on.
There were emotional scenes at the final whistle as many South Korean players fell to the ground while manager Paulo Bento was sent off for arguing with English referee Anthony Taylor for not allowing a corner to be taken despite the 10 minutes had elapsed.
“We had the opportunity to have a corner kick, the referee took that opportunity away from us,” assistant coach Sergio Costa said afterwards.
“Paulo [Bento] reacted, I was close by, and he said nothing inappropriate to the referee. It was a reaction from a person that felt a lack of fairness at the end of the match.
“It is a normal reaction from someone that did everything to win and didn’t. We can feel sad, and we can feel a lack of justice. We gave our souls on the pitch.”
In contrast, elated Ghana substitutes sprinted onto the pitch to celebrate as fans in the stand blew whistles and danced in celebration.
With Portugal to come next for South Korea, this feels like a significant defeat, while Ghana – unfortunate to lose against Portugal – will face Uruguay in good spirits in their final game.