Live Commentary: Ghana 1-0 Mali - as it happened

Ghana's Emmanuel Badu celebrates scoring the opening goal against Congo DR on January 20, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary of Ghana's narrow victory over Mali in this afternoon's Africa Cup of Nations Group B clash.

Ghana went into this afternoon's Africa Cup of Nations clash with Mali desperate to secure a win and keep their chances of qualifying from Group B alive.

Mali were furious in the opening stages when Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda received just a yellow card for handling outside the area under pressure from Mali captain Seydou Keita.

Mubarak Wakaso made that decision count just before the break when he scored the game's only goal from the penalty spot.

Look back a big win for the Black Stars with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary below.


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2.35pmGood afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole's live text commentary of a crucial Africa Cup of Nation's clash between Ghana and Mali. The Black Stars are under real pressure to get their first victory in the competition against a confident Mali side just one win away from securing a quarter-final spot.

2.37pmGhana were let down badly by a string of defensive errors in their Group B opener against DR Congo on Sunday. Despite cruising into a two-goal lead a spirited Congo fightback ensured the match ended in a 2-2 draw in the most exciting game of the tournament to date.

2.40pmMali finished third in last season's competition and looked confident in their 1-0 win over Niger on Sunday. A positive result in Port Elizabeth this afternoon will put Patrice Carteron's team into the last eight. Today's clash of Group B heavyweights has high stakes and added pressure for both sets of experienced squads.

2.43pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Ghana have unsurprisingly made three changes in defensive areas for this afternoon's clash. Interestingly Mali have also decided to rotate a winning team. Let's bring you the full starting XI's from Port Elizabeth.

2.47pmSTARTING LINEUPS:

GHANA: Dauda, Paintsil, Vorsah, Boye, Afful, Badu, Rabiu, Asamoah, Adomah, Wakaso, Gyan

MALI: Diawara, Adama Coulibaly, N'Diaye, Tamboura, Diakite, Mahamane Traore, Sissoko, Keita, Diarra, Diabate


2.50pmThe Black Stars have dropped Atsu, Boateng and Akiminko to the bench and drafted in Rabiu, Vorsah and Afful. Mali's most notable addition is Queens Park Rangers midfielder Samba Diakite, who will partner Mohammed Sissoko to form a strong central pairing.

2.54pmBoth teams have taken to the field at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for the national anthems. Let's quickly bring you a few words from Ghana defender John Pantsil, who was keen to stress the importance of a win in yesterday's press conference. He said: "We have to believe in ourselves. We have a very good coach with a lot of experience and he will decide how we play against Mali."

2.57pmGhana skipper Asamoah Gyan is under huge presser to start firing this afternoon. He has converted just one his last 27 shots in this competition in a run dating back to last year's tournament.

1 minHere we go in Port Elizabeth. After a slight delay Mali get us underway kicking from left to right in their distinctive yellow strip.

3 minBoth sides quickly clock up their first offside flag of the match in the first few minutes. A rash challenge from Wakaso hands Mali a free kick around 35 yards from goal but Diarra's delivery fails to beat the first defender.

5 minMali have quickly established possession and want to dictate the temp of this Group B encounter. Ghana have pace on the counter with Kwadwo Asamoah and Gyan and will look to find the talented duo quickly with diagonal passes.

7 minHANDBALL! Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda clearly handles to stop Seydou Keita shooting just outside the area but only receives a yellow card. A lucky escape for the Black Stars and their fortune continues as Keita curls the free kick just inches wide of the target.

9 minIvorian referee Noumandiez Doue had a difficult decision to make there but Dauda should surely have been given his marching orders for denying Keita a clear strike at goal.

11 minThis important clash has made a bright start but disappointingly just a handful of people are in the Nelson Mandela Stadium to watch it unfold. Gyan has just enjoyed his first involvement of the match, taking up a good position in the penalty area to win a corner.

13 minMali clear Adomah's corner with ease but are back on the defensive quickly to close down Pantsil's drive from distance.

16 minGhana win a free kick in the final third but Vorsah smashes a wayward delivery at least 15 yards over the crossbar with a penalty area full of players. Another disappointing set piece in a department lacking in genuine quality so far in this tournament.

18 minJust a quick line on a story reaching us on the future of Ghana and Bristol City winger Albert Adomah. The Championship club have confirmed this afternoon that they have rejected a written offer from an unnamed club for the midfielder.

20 minAdomah is involved heavily involved in this afternoon's match and just played Gyan into a wide area, but the former Sunderland striker's cross misses the driving run of Badu and the move breaks down.

22 minPanstil commits a needless foul just as Ghana look capable of mounting an attack down the left. That is the Black Stars' eighth foul of a match that is just 22 minutes old.

24 minGyan's persistent pressing wins a corner for Ghana but once again Adomah's cross fails to create danger in the penalty area. Afful decides to shoot from range as the ball breaks clear but his powerful strike is always rising and fails to trouble Samassa.

26 minDiakite drives past four Ghana players in a promising run but his pass just evades lone striker Diabate. Mali look powerful and combative in central midfield and are dominating that area of the pitch.

28 minGhana are missing the physical presence of Michael Essien, who decided to stay at Real Madrid rather than travel to South Africa. Sissoko and Diakite quickly win back possession as Mali try to launch a counter. Both sides have lacked a cutting final pass in the early stages of the match.

32 minOFF THE POST! Ghana come close as Badu finds himself unmarked from a free kick but can only send his downward header off the foot of the post. Samassa was nowhere near that effort, which is by some distance the best strike on goal of the match.

35 minGhana defender Boye is struggling with an injury but after treatment returns to the field.

36 minPENALTY! The Black Stars have been awarded a penalty after Badu was brought down by a sliding challenge from Tamboura.

38 minGOAL! Ghana 1-0 Mali (Wakaso)

39 minAfter a lengthy delay thanks to Mali protests Wakaso takes a single stride before planting the ball into the bottom right corner. A vital breakthrough for Ghana who are rewarded for a concerted period of pressure with the opening goal.

41 minWakaso has been booked for his excited celebrations, which seems a touch harsh as he did not appear to remove his shirt or leave the field of play.

43 minMali have retreated deep into their own half and must be careful not to fall any further behind before the break. Diabate cut's an isolated figure in attack as Ghana pour forward in numbers.

45 minBadu controls neatly just outside the penalty area but smashes high above goal under pressure from the Mali defence. Keita quickly tries to engineer a counter but his long pass is well caught by Dauda.

45 min+2Dauda has stayed down under a challenge from Diabate and seems to be is in some discomfort with a shoulder problem.

45 min+3Dauda makes a miraculous recovery as stoppage time winds down with Mali pressing but struggling to create a meaningful strike on goal.

3.49pmHALF-TIME Ghana 1-0 Mali

3.52pmMubarak Wakaso's penalty separates the two sides at the interval after a first half full of energy but lacking in attacking quality. Mali started strongly but Ghana slowly grew in confidence and probably deserve their lead at the break, just.

3.55pmGhana enjoyed a huge slick of fortune with the match just minutes old when goalkeeper Fatamu Dauda handled outside the area to stop Seydou Keita's run at goal. Despite animated Mali protests Dauda got away with just a caution.

3.59pmReferee Noumandiez Doue had been heavily involved this afternoon but did get the penalty call right just before the break. A rash sliding tackle from Tamboura was poorly timed and stopped Badu advancing deep into the penalty area.

4.03pmMali need to get Keita on the ball in advanced areas if they want to find a route back into the match. The former Barcelona midfielder has been crowded out after a bright opening salvo and has been frustrated.

46 minMali have made a substitution at the break, bringing on West Ham United striker Modibo Maiga for Diarra. A positive move from coach Patrice Carteron which bodes well for a second half that Ghana have just got underway.

48 minDespite that attacking change it's Ghana who have the first effort on goal in the second half through Adomah, who has a free kick easily punched clear of danger by Samassa.

50 minBOOKING! Mali midfielder Mahammadou Ndiaye has just picked up his side's first yellow card of the match for pushing Rabiu across the chest.

52 minCHANCE! Admoah breaks clear in a wide area and flashes a powerful cross along the six-yard box that narrowly evades Gyan unmarked at the far post. Mali were asleep at the back and nearly fell further behind as a result.

54 minMali win two corners in quick succession but Traore fails to trouble Dauda with either delivery, much to the frustration of his manager Carteron.

57 minMaiga's introduction has seen Mali show far more purpose in the final third and it's his forward burst which wins Mali another corner kick. Once again Traore's cross is easily caught by Dauda and the chance is gone.

60 minVorsah gives away the ball in his own half and Maiga is quickly onto his poor pass but a lofted cross to strike partner Diabate is well read by Dauda. Encouraging signs here for the trailing side.

63 minA smart move from Ghana nearly plays Badu into space but a last-ditch interception from Coulibaly clears the danger.

66 minGhana look dangerous on the break and space will surely open up the break as Mali search desperately for an equaliser in the closing stages. Coulibaly becomes the second Mali player to receive a yellow card for a late lunge on Gyan.

69 minSUBSTITUTION: Mali make their second change as Sissoko makes way for Samba Sow. The former Liverpool man faded badly in the second half and did not look fully fit at any stage this afternoon.

72 minSUBSTITUTION: Ghana are forced into a change of their own as Wakaso is stretchered off. The goalscorer is replaced by winger Christian Atsu.

74 minIn the space of three minutes John Pantsil and Mahamane Traore both earn cautions, for time wasting and a wide tackle respectively. A promising match has petered out in the last 20 minutes.

76 mimSUBSTITUTION: Just to confuse things Mali bring on a second Samassa with their final change of the match. The Chievo midfielder has less than 15 minutes to make a meaningful impact in Port Elizabeth.

78 minSUBSTITUTION: The changes continue to come thick and fast as Kwadwo Asamoah is replaced by Derek Boateng in a defensive move for the Black Stars.

80 minSAVE! Ghana produce the best shot of the second half with a free kick from distance. Badu's powerful strike needed a strong hand from Samassa to send it wide of the far post.

82 minKeita has dropped deep to try and provide service for Mali's front two but Ghana continue to frustrate the Mali captain by pressing high and staying compact at the back.

84 minSUBSTITUTION: A tired Adomah comes off for Solomon Asante and the nippy winger almost scores with his first touch, a stinging drive which drifts a few yards wide of the target.

86 minMali left it late to make the breakthrough against Niger in their first match and need a similar show to earn anything from this afternoon's match. Diawara shows some urgency to make a driving run and earn Mali their fifth corner with four minutes left to play.

88 minAnother below-par cross from Traore comes to nothing, he should have been removed from corner-kick duties a long time ago. Atsu and Gyan clear on the counter and take the ball wide to waste crucial seconds.

90 minMaiga decides enough is enough and takes Mali's sixth corner but he fails to do any better and Ghana get another chance to clear their lines. The fourth official has his board up and indicates there will be five added minutes.

90 min+2Mali get it wrong from a free kick and Ghana break with attacking intent. Astu drives forward on the right and tries to pick out Badu but his pass is just too heavy for the striker.

90 min+3Asante conceds a free kick 40 yards from goal, which Keita lofts into a dangerous area. Ghana fail to clear and the ball eventually falls to Diakite, who chooses to head at goal rather than pick out a teammate and sends his effort wide of the target from a tight angle.

90 min+5One last chance for Mali as Diawara surges down the wing, but the flag is up for offside and Ghana look to have done enough to secure a vital victory.

4.55pmFULL-TIME Ghana 1-0 Mali

4.57pmJust a single goal from the penalty spot turned out to be enough for Ghana to pick up three precious points this afternoon. The Black Stars have now moved above Mali to the top of Group B.

4.59pmBoth sides will now eagerly await the result from tonight's other match in Group B as Niger take on DR Congo looking for their first Nations Cup win.

5.00pmThat just about does it for our coverage of Ghana vs. Mali. Be sure to visit Sport Mole for each and every match from the Africa Cup of Nations. Thanks for joining me, have a good evening.

Congo DR's Tresor Mputu scores the equaliser against Ghana on January 20, 2013
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