United States 2, Ghana 1
The hard-fought win leaves Jurgen Klinsmann’s side second to Germany only on goal difference in Group G, while Ghana are left alongside Portugal without a point to their name.
Clocked at just 29 seconds, Dempsey’s early goal was the fifth-fastest in the history of the FIFA World Cup™ – a list led by Hakan Sukur’s 11-second effort against Korea Republic in 2002. A beautifully crafted strike it was too, with Dempsey linking with Jermaine Jones on the left, jinking past John Boye and crashing an unstoppable left-foot shot in off the far post.
Stunned at having fallen behind so quickly, Ghana struggled to establish a rhythm, and it took until late in the first half for Tim Howard to be seriously tested. When the call did come, however, the US No1 responded in style, diving low to his left to push away a ferocious, low 20-yard shot from Asamoah Gyan.
At the other end, meanwhile, USA lost starting centre-forward Jozy Altidore – stretchered off with a serious looking injury – but threatened again in the final minute of the half when Alejandro Bedoya’s awkward inswinging free-kick was clawed behind by Adam Kwarasey for a corner.
The Black Stars were steadily growing into the match, though, and Jordan Ayew wasted a great opportunity in first-half injury time, scuffing a right foot shot into the ground after finding himself unmarked 16 yards from goal.
Chances continued to come the Africans’ way in the second half, with Sulley Muntari only inches away from finding the target with a trademark left-foot drive from long range. Gyan then headed over from an unmarked position, and was up above his marker soon after, forcing Howard into another agile save.
USA were being pegged back at this stage, but they showed that they still packed an attacking punch after 64 minutes when Jones stung the palms of Kwarasey from 25 yards. Ghana remained the most dangerous attacking side, though, and with eight minutes remaining Andre Ayew scored a deserved equaliser.
There were similarities to Dempsey’s effort, with the move crafted on the left and Ayew bursting powerfully on to a backheel from Gyan and poking the ball beyond Howard with the outside of his foot.
But USA were not to be denied the win they so desperately craved, and the points were sealed just four minutes later when substitute Brooks directed home a powerful downward header from Graham Zuzi’s outswinging corner.