Agogo fires Ghana to semi
Forest striker books Ghana's place in last four
Last Updated: February 3, 2008 8:26pm
Essien: Headed Ghana level
Junior Agogo will be the toast of Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ghana after his late goal saw them secure a 2-1 victory over Nigeria that books them a semi-final berth.
Ghana defied numerical disadvantage when John Mensah was sent-off for a professional foul in the second half to complete their passage to the competition's last four.
Nottingham Forest striker Agogo struck with eight minutes remaining to complete Ghana's fightback, after Nigeria had taken a lead through Yakubu Aiyegbeni's penalty, only for Michael Essien to restore parity on the stroke of half-time with an excellent header.
The early sparring was predictably tense and chances were at a premium, as Asamoah Gyan went closest to opening the scoring for Ghana when his drilled effort struck the outside of a post.
Nigeria's primary threat came through the muscular presence of Yakubu and it was the Everton man that should have done better when he petered a shot wide after turning his man cleverly on the edge of the box.
Yakubu was not so meek with his next effort though, as he slammed home a 33rd minute penalty after Erik Addo was somewhat agricultural in pulling down the goalscorer in his own box.
The home crowd were momentarily silenced but as the first half entered its dying embers their talisman Essien rejuvenated the mood with a powerful header, from Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's pinpoint delivery, that hit the post before nestling in the corner of Nigeria's net.
In the second period Mensah's dismissal for hauling down Osaze Odemwingie looked to have swung the momentum in Nigeria's favour, but on the contrary, Berti Vogts' side retreated into their shell.
It was Ghana that always looked the more likely to deliver a winner and they were rewarded for their ambition when with eight minutes remaining the impressive Sulley Muntari's delivery was stabbed home by Agogo from close range.
Nigeria pushed men forward in search of a leveller but the paucity of their attacking forays left a partisan home crowd overjoyed at the final whistle.
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