Gyan clinches draw for Ghana against England

Asamoah Gyan struck a stoppage-time equalizer to give Ghana a

1-1 friendly draw against England in their first-ever meeting on

Tuesday.

In front of 20,000 Ghana fans at Wembley Stadium, the Sunderland

striker weaved his way past England defender Joleon Lescott before

curling past goalkeeper Joe Hart.

”This goal is something historic – it is the first goal we’ve

scored against England,” Gyan said. ”I was twisting and turning,

but honestly, I don’t know what I was doing, I was just trying to

protect the ball.

”The English defenders are very intelligent, but they did not

know if I was going to pass the ball, but I thought, well they

might push me down, but they didn’t do that, so I thought, I’ve got

a chance, so I took my chance.”

Gyan’s late intervention for the World Cup quarterfinalists

denied Andy Carroll the chance to mark his first goal for England

just before half time with a victory.

Gyan was one of the few players who didn’t play 48 hours earlier

in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Congo, having

been suspended.

”It was very tough to play England at Wembley,” Ghana coach

Goran Stevanovic said. ”In three days we traveled a lot and I

think tonight we did our best.”

England had longer to recover – and a shorter trip – after

winning at Wales on Saturday in European Championship qualifying,

with just four players surviving to feature for the second-string

side.

”I’m really happy because I saw a fantastic game, not a

friendly game,” England coach Fabio Capello said. ”Every tackle

was a fight, the players played very well – the players that played

not a lot of games here, the new players, played well.”

The experimental lineup allowed Capello to hand debuts to

Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Matt Jarvis and Danny Welbeck, the

Manchester United striker on loan at Gyan’s Sunderland.

”I think we proved we’ve got strength in depth,” said winger

Stewart Downing, who didn’t play on Saturday. ”The players who

came in played magnificently tonight … if some of the fringe

players can come in and do a job then we’ll be picked more

often.”

Carroll, whose only previous England appearance was in

November’s friendly against France, broke the deadlock when Ashley

Young lofted the ball forward and Downing knocked it across for the

35 million-pound ($56 million) Liverpool striker to slot through

John Mensah’s legs and past goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

”It was great to get the goal,” Carroll said. ”I’m coming

back fit now (after a thigh injury). Getting the goal proved I’m

here and ready to score goals for England.”

The goal was the perfect riposte to Capello’s criticism of his

off-field conduct.

The powerful 22-year-old forward was urged ahead of the match by

Capello to drink less and avoid trouble after attracting bouts of

negative publicity.

But Capello knows how important the most expensive Englishman

can be to the national team’s chances of success at the 2012

European Championship and has already earmarked him as Wayne

Rooney’s strike partner when they are both fully fit.

”I remember Carroll before he suffered the injury problems,”

Capello said. ”He’s the same player, runs a lot, always fight, he

needs games … to improve because he’s a really important player

and he’s always in the box.”

There was no chance for the duo to link up against Ghana with

Rooney one of the players rested due to his involvement in the

Champions League next week.

England could have been in front before Carroll struck, with

Young coming close three times.

While one shot was blasted over and Kingson tipped over another

effort, he squandered a golden chance in the 25th minute.

After racing forward to meet James Milner’s cross, he raised the

ball against the crossbar when he had an open net.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart further strengthened his

international credentials with key saves to deny Dominic Adiyiah,

first with his legs and then with a palmed one-handed reaction save

in the first half.

And Ghana, despite its energy-sapping travels, looked more

potent than England after the break, with Jonathan Mensah coming

closest to scoring when he headed over.

Lineups:

England: Joe Hart, Phil Jagielka (Joleon Lescott, 46), Leighton

Baines, Gary Cahill, Glen Johnson, Gareth Barry, Jack Wilshere

(Matthew Jarvis, 69), James Milner, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll

(Jermain Defoe, 59), Ashley Young (Danny Welbeck, 81).

Ghana: Richard Kingson, John Mensah, John Pantsil, Lee Addy

(Jonathan Mensah, 46), Isaac Vorsah (Derek Boateng, 46), Sulley

Muntari (Morgan Ayew-Dede, 59), Anthony Annan (Daniel Opare, 46),

Kojo Asamoah (Samuel Inkoom, 84), Asamoah Gyan, Emmanuel

Agyemang-Badu, Dominic Adiyiah (Prince Tagoe, 69).