Classy Ghana beat Mauritius
Ghana got their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign off to a perfect start with a 7-1 demolition of Mauritius on Sunday.
The home side made their intentions clear right from the blast of the referee’s whistle as Avram Grant ordered his men to push forward to unsettle their opponents and take control of the match.
A powerful header from Leicester City defender Jeffrey Schlupp, after a teasing cross from Christian Atsu, narrowly missed the target after five minutes to set the tempo of the contest.
The outstanding Bournemouth new boy Atsu showed his teammate how to score five minutes later, breaking the deadlock from clos range following a well-calculated cross from Abdul Baba Rahman.
Captain Asamoah Gyan almost doubled Ghana’s lead on the quarter-hour mark but his effort was parried away by goalkeeper Kevin Jean-Louis.
Mauritius began to look disjointed as they gave away the ball far too easily while Ghana appeared comfortable, playing with a swagger. The Black Stars doubled their lead on the 17th minute through Jordan Ayew.
Ausburg defender Rahman once again delivered a powerful cross from the left and Ayew headed past goalkeeper Jean-Louis at full stretch.
Mauritius were stunned, but far worse was to come for the visitors as Ghana capitalised on more shambolic defending to score three goals within fifteen minutes.
Ayew turned creator soon after scoring, squaring his effort to Gyan after beating two defenders on the 23rd minute, leaving the Al-Ain goal poacher to simply tap-in his first of the day. Gyan made it 4-0 on the half-hour mark with a well-placed header after a tailor-measured cross from Baba, one of the game's outstanding individuals.
Jean-Pierre Sophie capitalised on sloppy defending by the Black Stars to pull one back against the run of play on the 32nd minute, but Jordan scored his second on the day soon afterwards to restore Ghana’s four goal margin on the 38th minute.
The first half ended 5-1 and the game was over as a contest.
Ghana continued from where they left after the break but Mauritius remained tight and kept their more-illustrious opponents at bay. That was until Atsu once again proved his importance to Grant’s side.
The former Everton man was influential once again as he cut in from the left and laid the ball off for Jeffrey Schlupp to score his first-ever goal for the national side on the 66th minute. Gyan could have netted a hat-trick or more but he fluffed several opportunities to the dismay of the few spectators in the arena.
Avram Grant brought on David Accam for Schlupp late on, and the Chicago Fire winger made his presence felt. The former Helsingborgs IF player latched onto some poor defending by the visitors, kept his composure and sent a low drive past Jean-Louis to make it 7-1 deep into added time.
Ghana will travel to Kigali on September 5 to lock horns with Rwanda in the second group game before they host Mozambique in March next year.