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Ghana 1-0 Mali

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Mubarak: Nets winner from the spot

Mubarak: Nets winner from the spot

Ghana took a big step towards qualifying for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals after seeing off Group B rivals Mali 1-0 on Thursday.

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Wakaso Mubarak struck the game's only goal from the penalty spot after Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu had been brought down in the area by a reckless challenge from Adama Tamboura.

The result takes the Black Stars top of the group on four points, one ahead of Mali, while the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger must still play in the day's other Group B match at 20:00.

Seydou Keita had the first real chance on goal in the eighth minute from a free-kick just in front of the area after keeper Fatau Dauda's brain implosion saw him rush off his line and handle the ball outside box, earning a yellow card for his efforts.

Keita, however, failed to make him pay for his error when the Eagles skipper curled the ball around the wall and to the left of goal.

Asamoah Gyan created some excitement for the Black Stars fans in the 13th minute with his deflected shot on goal, the subsequent corner-kick from the left then drawing a punch-out from the box by Mamadou Samassa.

Yet, by the 20-minute mark neither keeper had been called into action to make a save from a clear shot on goal at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

The Ghanaians then started peppering Samassa with a few long-range teasers, Mubarak and Albert Adomah both firing in from the left only for their respective attempts to breeze over the crossbar.

Agyemang-Badu then came the closest to scoring for Ghana in the 33rd minute when he rose highest inside the danger area to meet a free-kick from the left, his header beating Samassa but agonisingly hitting the left post.

Minutes later, Agyemang-Badu was reeling on the ground off Tamboura's rash tackle inside the area, allowing Mubarak to step up and make a name for himself from the subsequent spot-kick.

The second half was a mix of sloppy challenges and a plethora of yellow cards, making the stanza a rather stop-start affair.

Aware that at least point from the clash would've helped their cause in sealing a last-eight berth, the Eagles pushed up strongly, using the width of the pitch to their advantage.

But whether they attacked from the left, right or down the middle, Mali couldn't find their way past Ghana's iron-clad defence, Isaac Vorsah a rock at the back for Kwesi Appiah's side.

Ghana themselves looked to close out the match in fine fashion, with substitutes Solomon Asante, Derek Boateng and Christian Atsu combing well up front to create a few late chances.

Cheick Diabate had the Black Stars faithful with their hands over their hearts when he went for goal inside the area off a rebounded corner-kick on the stroke of full-time.

Unfortunately, the West Ham ace shanked his shot out of touch and Ghana comfortably closed out the match to seal their first win of the tournament.

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Posted: 24/01/13 16:54

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