Felix Afena-Gyan of Ghana battles for possession with Alex Telles of Brazil
Ghana’s Black Stars received a rude awakening ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup after losing 0-3 to Brazil in an international friendly encounter at the Stade Océane in Le Havre, France, yesterday.
It was the first of three warm-up matches for the Black Stars ahead of the global tournament and the performance of the team provided a chance for the head coach Otto Addo to fix the cracks in the team before they play against Nicaragua next tuesday.
The Brazilians had the game under control by the half hour mark as they dominated ball possession and raced into a two-goal cushion before taking a comfortable 3-0 lead by half time, as the Ghanaians had their backs to the wall with the centre-backs exposed.
Coach Otto Addo maintained a familiar starting lineup, which lost midfield strongman Thomas Partey who pulled up injured (replaced by Baba Iddrisu) after picking a knock during warm-up but rested his newcomers who were introduced in the second half as they Ghanaians lifted up their game with a more compact midfield and tighter defending, including some important saves by goalkeeper Joseph Wollacot.
Marquihos opened the scoring for the five-time world champions in the ninth minute and the South Americans kept their foot on the accelerator with their talisman Neymar creating problems for the Ghanaian defenders deep in attack.
Richarlison scored twice in the 28th and the 40th minutes as the Brazilians forced Ghana into defensive move without goalkeeper Alisson Becker on virtual holiday in the first half.
The Brazilians controlled the game and looked the more promising side to score with Alex Telles making a dangerous run past left-back Baba Raham who found Richarlison in the box but skied the effort in the fourth minute.
Neymar also came into the game a few minutes later with a delightful ball to Vinicius Jnr who found Raphinha with a whistling short but missed the target narrowly.
Ghana’s only attempt at goal came in the third minute when the Ghanaians attacked from the right flanks with lead striker Felix Afena Gyan firing a weak shot into the hands of goalkeeper Alisson.
It was only a matter of time for the Selecao to take the lead which came after the Ghanaian defenders| failed to clear their lines and conceded a corner kick which Marquinhos soared above his markers to head home for the opener.
Ghana’s midfield looked frail and couldn’t match the pace and skills of the Brazilians as they run riot and covered every inch of available space in Ghana’s goal area with Rafinha and Vinicius Jnr having a field day on the flanks as Rahman and Denis Odoi failed to match up pace .
Richarlison increased the tally in the 28 minute following a delightful play from midfield with Neymar, locating the pacey forward with a long pass to squeeze a shot through a tight corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Wollacott.
Brazil kept their foot on the accelerator with a delightful inter-positional display along the flanks. In one of their moves from the middle, poster boy Neymar was fouled at the edge of the Ghana penalty box. The resultant free-kick was lifted onto the path of Richarlison who headed home his second goal of the day with the Ghanaian defenders caught pants down.
Second half substitution and changes the defensive formation brought some stability to the Ghanaian tea. Coach Addo handed Inaki Williams and Salisu Mohammed their international debut as replacement for ineffective Gyan and Kamaldeen Sulemana respectively.
Williams’ presence at the right side of attack brought some pace into the game put pressure on the Brazilian defence, twice shooting at goal and creating crosses which could not find the target man/
The crossbar came to Brazil’s aid in the 54th minute when Andre Ayew soared to head a corner kick by Williams in what was the run into the
The Black Stars were unlucky in the 66th minute as they turned defence into attack but Andre Ayew slipped and fell in the box in a scoring position after being set up by Williams.
Coach Addo introduced Tariq Lamptey, Antoine Semenyo and Elisha Owusu were all introduced later in the game, while Brazil also brought on Antony, Fabinho and Cunna.
After creating two of the goals, Neymar attempted to get his name on the score sheet in the 82nd minute when he dribbled his way his way into scoring position but his final shot was saved by Wollacott who was alert for most past of the half.
Substitute Salisu was solid in defence making some timely tackles and helped to prevent the Brazilians from souring their fourth goal deep into the game as he cleared a shot by Neymar from the goal line after Wollacott made a brilliant point-blank save of a ferocious strike by Maxima.