Ghana 1, Serbia 0

The first World Cup in Africa has its first African winner.

Ghana stunned Serbia when Asamoah Gyan scored on an 84th-minute

penalty kick Sunday for a 1-0 victory in Group D. The win set off

celebrations not only on the Loftus Versfeld pitch, but throughout

Ghana.

And across the African continent.

“That’s what you’re seeing,” Ghana midfielder Stephen Appiah

said. “This is the first time the World Cup is held in Africa, and

all Africa is united.”

After the final whistle, the Ghana players ran across the field

in jubilation, some carrying national flags as they received

applause from a crowd that pretty much made them the home team.

“Every African is behind us,” Gyan said. “I salute all you

guys. We win this match for you.”

And for the folks back home.

Large crowds gathered on major streets in Accra. Cars draped in

the national flag swarmed the roads, and some drivers honked their

horns while others sang.

“The Black Stars have started what the African countries in the

tournament have not been able to do so far by winning a match,”

15-year-old viewer Inusah Gariba said. “We have taken the lead and

hopefully an African team – preferably Ghana – would come out tops

in the final.”

That’s a long way off. In the opener for both teams, Zdravko

Kuzmanovic needlessly handled a cross in the area, then argued the

call and the yellow card he received. Gyan drove the penalty kick

high to the left for the only goal

Previously, Ghana missed a series of headers. John Mensah and

Gyan missed the target and Dede Ayew headed against the

goalpost.

Serbia’s only real threat near the end was a shot by Milos

Krasic that was brilliantly saved by Richard Kingson.

The Serbs had Aleksandar Lukovic sent off in the 74th minute for

a second yellow card.

“For sure, this is a big blow for us. To start a World Cup with

a defeat is a bad thing,” Serbia coach Radomir Antic said. “We

will use all our energy to be positive when preparing for the next

game (against Germany next Friday).”

Germany shut out Australia 4-0 in the other group game

Sunday.

The only African team to reach the second round at the 2006

World Cup, Ghana nearly got a second goal. Gyan almost made it 2-0

in injury time but hit the post after a burst down the left

side.

“This is all I have worked for, and to be man of the match, it

is fantastic,” he said.

The fast-moving Ghanaians created more chances and could have

been ahead by halftime.

Central defender Mensah headed a free kick wide of the far post

and Gyan failed to reach a left wing cross by Kevin-Prince Boateng

as the Serb defense struggled against well-directed balls into the

middle.

Defender Aleksander Korolov produced the first threat to the

Ghanaians with a 30-yard free kick that sailed just wide, and

goalkeeper Richard Kingson fumbled another long range drive by

Dejan Stankovic.

But they made little use of the height of 6-foot-8 striker

Nikola Zigic, who was replaced in the middle of the second half

having made little impact.

The Serbs finally got close in the 79th when Marko Pantelic left

the ball to Krasic, whose left-footed shot was acrobatically pushed

over the crossbar by Kingson.

Neven Subotic of Salt Lake City made his World Cup debut when he

entered as a sub for Serbia in the 76th minute. Subotic made one

start and three substitute appearances for the U.S. at the 2005

Under-17 World Championship, where he played alongside forward Jozy

Altidore, a member of this year’s American World Cup team.

Subotic left the U.S. national team program after he was passed

over by coach Thomas Rongen for the 2007 Under-20 World Cup. He

made his debut for Serbia in March 2009.