Asamoah Gyan struck a stoppage-time equalizer to give Ghana a 1-1 draw against England in an international friendly on Tuesday.
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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.
Gyan’s late intervention 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 the players in Champions League action next week sent back to their clubs.
”I think we proved we’ve got strength in depth,” said 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 the perfect riposte to coach Fabio Capello’s criticism of his off-field conduct.
The 22-year-old powerful 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.
”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.”
There was no chance for the duo to link up against Ghana with Rooney one of the rested players.
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.
”It was not a friendly game, there were two teams on the pitch playing well, strongly, with lots of tackles,” Capello said. ”I’m really happy with the performance. The players played without fear, with confidence. Ghana are a really good team, the performance was fantastic.”
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).