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Czech Republic 0-2 Ghana

The rest of the day was taken up with results that no-one could or would have predicted. I know it sounds like excuses, but consider this: Ghana, whilst they had showed flashes of inspiration against Italy, hadn’t shown that they had anything like the defensive nous to deal with the likes of Thomas Rosicky, Pavel Nedved, et al. The Czechs, however, had turned in one of the performances of the first round of matches against the USA. People were talking about them possibly going all the way.

There is no question that the Czechs were outplayed. Had it no been for Petr Cech, it could have been five or six. But it wasn’t. It was a bad day at the office for the Czech defender Ujfalusi, whose error gifted Asamoah Gyan to open the scoring just after a minute in. In the second half, he was red-carded for bringing down Gyan (although the referee didn’t appear in any hurry to send him off, there was a good two-minute wait while he calmed down protests and, mystifyingly, booked Gyan for taking the penalty too quickly. It was second time lucky for the Czechs. Having scored with his first penalty, Gyan hit the post. And, yes, the yellow card keeps him out of their final group match.

Muntari scored a near perfunctory second goal with twelve minutes to go – Nedved had earlier had what looked like a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside. An equalizer would have been harsh on Ghana. They were the better team, cutting off the supply line to Nedved and Rosicky, and breaking dangerously and quickly. Their defensive issues still mean that, should they get through this phase, they will be likely to struggle in the knockout stages, particularly if drawn against Brazil, but they deserve to have a chance, going into the final phase. For the Czechs, a win against Italy is now the minimum requirement of they wish to progress.

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