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Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Klose equals Ronaldo's scoring record as Ghana hold Germany in thriller

The veteran forward, playing in his fourth World Cup, scored a vital goal to draw his country level.
Jun 21st 2014, 11:07 PM 5,383 7

Updated at 23.19

GERMANY 2 Götze 51′ Klose 71′
GHANA 2 A Ayew 54′ Gyan 63′

MIKEY STAFFORD reports for the Score.ie from Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza

RONALDO HAD ASKED for a curse to be placed upon Miroslav Klose but not even the Brazilian magician could cast a spell strong enough to blunt the incredible attacking prowess of the German striker, who now joins the 2002 World Cup winner at the top of the tournament’s scoring charts.

If the 36-year-old Lazio striker is to claim the winner’s medal that his 15 finals goals must surely now merit, then he and his Germany team-mates will look back on this hard-fought draw as a vital step.

The veteran forward, playing in his fourth World Cup, was lurking at the back post to nudge home home Benedikt Howedes’ flick on from a corner after Joachim Löw’s men had allowed Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan to put Ghana in front after Mario Götze’s bundled opener.
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The world’s second-ranked team very nearly came unstuck in a hot and sticky Fortaleza, as Ghana began to look increasingly dominant in the 30 degree temperatures and nearly 50% humidity.

The Black Stars were fighting for their World Cup lives after their 2-1 defeat to the United States and Akwasi Appiah’s men had enjoyed the better of the first period only to fall behind six minutes after the break — Götze evading the marking of Harrison Afful to force a Thomas Müller cross home via his head and then his knee.

After his brother and German full-back Jerome was substituted at the break, former German Under 21 international Kevin Prince Boateng followed him off the field prior to the resumption. The Schalke attacker had questioned Germany’s lack of leaders in the lead up to the match, but the former Portsmouth man could not live up to his own billing and it was no surprise when he was withdrawn.
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The game’s quota of brothers was maintained, however, by his replacement Jordan Ayew, younger sibling to Andre — who equalised for Ghana three minutes later.

The Marseilles attacker rose above Boateng’s replacement Shrokdan Mustafi to head home an excellent delivery from Harrison Afful.

Ghana, cheered on by a partisan local majority, were well in the ascendancy now and when Germany lost possession in midfield, Muntari released the to-that-point ineffective Gyan, the former Sunderland striker smashing a right-foot shot over the shoulder of Neuer. It could and should have been three or even four, but first Jordan Ayew failed to square to Gyan after a great run, and then his older brother completely missed a free header when found unmarked in the box.

They should have known they would be punished and that old fox in the box Klose, introduced moments earlier for Götze, duly delivered. The Polish-born striker, the only established Number 9 in the German squad, could have won it late on, but dragged a right-foot shot wide. It would have been harsh on Ghana, who had opportunities of their own, as a fantastic match drew to a pulsating and frantic conclusion.
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The three points would have put the Africans in a healthier position ahead of the encounter with Portugal, but the best chance of all fell to Müller, whose shot was blocked by Kwadwo Asamoah.

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The draw means Germany top Group G with four points going into their final match on Thursday against the United States, who do not play Portugal until Sunday evening. Like Euro 2008 and the last World Cup, the European superpower have been unable to back-up an impressive opening display — in this case a 4-0 demolition of Portugal.

From the start the majority of the crowd — pockmarked by swathes of empty seats — were very much behind the Ghanaians, and they expressed their disapproval to Germany’s long, early spells of position with catcalls and whistles.

Löw’s side were probing diligently, playing in swift triangular patterns, looking to release a player running from deep, and while Götze and Mesut Özil were almost found on the surge, the first real chance fell to Ghana.

Asamoah spread a long ball across the field to Christian Atsu, who cut the ball back for Gyan, but the Ghana captain’s shot from seven yards was well off target.
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Ghana’s high line was always going to present opportunities for Germany’s nippy attackers but John Boye and Jonathan Mensah were performing heroics in the centre of defence to protect new goalkeeper Fatau Dauda’s goal.

The influential Toni Kroos had a shot blocked down after being teed up by a clever Müller backheel, Boye was doing a fine line in last-ditch interventions and Mensah performed one flying overhead interception to cut out a Kroos through ball.

Most, if not quite all, of these chances were stemming from the Ghanaian left flank where Juventus winger Asamoah was a little too casual in possession and too casual in his marshalling of the interchanging Götze and Özil.

However, despite the last gasp nature of their defending, it was Ghana who were enjoying the best opportunities. By the time Götze managed Germany’s first shot on target in the 38th minute, a 20-yard effort straight at Dauda, Ghana had forced Manuel Neuer in the Germany goal into two sharp saves. First from Chelsea winger Atsu and then former Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari tried his luck from outside the area.

However, it was in the box where the decisive moments of this game were played out and there are few deadlier poachers than Klose.

His young successor Müller took the plaudits with his hat-trick against Portugal but Klose’s record-equalling effort could be truly priceless. Just ask Ronaldo.

Germany (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng (Shrokdan Mustafi ht), Mats Hummels, Per Mertesacker, Benedikt Howedes; Philipp Lahm (c), Sami Khedira (Sebastian Schweinsteiger 69); Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, Mario Götze (Miroslav Klose 69); Thomas Müller.

Ghana (4-2-3-1): Fatau Dauda; Harrison Afful, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Kwadwo Asamoah; Sulley Muntari, Mohammed Rabiu (Emmanuel Badu 78); Christian Atsu, Kevin Prince Boateng (Jordan Ayew 52), Andre Ayew; Asamoah Gyan (c)

Referee: Sandro Ricci (Brazil)

Attendance: 59,621

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Mikey Stafford

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