Jul 13, 2013 at 4pm UK
Ghana
3-0
IraqIraq
Attamah (35'), Assifuah (45'), Acheampong (78')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Live Commentary: U20 World Cup third-place playoff: Ghana 3-0 Iraq - as it happened

Ghana's Ebenezer Assifuah celebrates scoring during the Under-20 World Cup quarter final soccer match between Ghana and Chile on July 7, 2013
© AP Photos
Relive Sports Mole's coverage of the Under-20 World Cup third-place playoff between Ghana and Iraq.

Ghana claimed third place in the Under-20 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Iraq this afternoon.

Joseph Attamah opened the scoring for the African side in the first half, and that lead was doubled by Golden Boot-chasing Ebenezer Assifuah just before the break.

Ghana then soaked up Iraqi pressure at the start of the second half before Frank Acheampong put the result beyond doubt with just over 10 minutes remaining.

You can read how an entertaining 90 minutes unfolded with Sports Mole's live coverage below.


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3.30pmGood afternoon! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for the Under-20 World Cup third-place playoff between Ghana and Iraq. It promises to be an enthralling encounter, so let's get straight down to business.

3.32pmWe'll start by looking at Ghana, who have been one of the most exciting teams at this summer's tournament. Goals are almost guaranteed everytime that Ghana play, although coach Sellas Tetteh will be disappointed that so many have come against his side.

3.34pmGhana have conceded 12 goals in their six matches so far, by far the most of any side still in the competition. What they lack in defensive strength they make up for in attack, however. They are the second top scorers in the competition with 13 goals.

3.36pmLet's have a look at how Ghana reached this stage, then. Few would have seen them lasting until the final day after defeats in their opening two matches. They lost 3-1 to France before a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Spain. However, a 4-1 win over USA in their final group game saw them progress from the 'group of death' by the skin of their teeth. They progressed as the fourth best third-placed team, booking a date with Portugal in the next round.

3.38pmIn that match they were forced to come from behind against the much-fancied Portuguese side, eventually triumphing with a fine 3-2 victory. They were also forced to come from behind in their next match, where they faced Chile. The match was the most exciting of the tournament so far, culminating in Ghana scoring a 120th minute winner to secure a 4-3 victory after extra time. Their root to the final was blocked by France, however, as Florian Thauvin's brace saw Les Bleus hold off a spirited Ghanaian performance.

3.40pmSwitching our attention to Iraq, they remain unbeaten in normal and extra time in this year's competition - a magnificent feat. They were 2-0 down against England towards the end of their opening match but fought back to claim an impressive 2-2 draw. They followed this up with consecutive 2-1 wins against Egypt and Chile to book their place in the knockout round as group winners.

3.42pmThey have been made to work hard for their spot in the third-place playoff. They were taken to extra time by Paraguay, eventually winning 1-0, before South Korea took them all the way to penalties after a dramatic 3-3 draw. Iraq put the disappointment of conceding a 120th-minute equaliser behind them to run out 5-4 winners in the shootout.

3.44pmThat booked their spot in the semi-finals, already making it their most successful campaign ever, but it almost got even better for them as they led for a long time against Uruguay. An equaliser late in normal time forced extra time and subsequently penalties, where Uruguay managed to win 7-6. Still, it has been a superb achievement for Iraq to get this far, and a third-placed finish would be the icing on the cake for them.

3.46pmTiredness may begin to play a part for Iraq, though. They are the first team in Under-20 World Cup history to require extra time in all three of their knockout rounds. That is the equivalent of playing another full match, so the Iraqi players may well suffer from fatigue today.

3.48pmGHANA STARTING XI: Ofori; Attamah, Baba, Lartey, Addico; Salifu, Aboagye, Odjer; Ashia, Assifuah, Acheampong

3.50pmIRAQ STARTING XI: H Mohammed; A Ali, F Ali, Dhurgham, Mustafa; Saif, Jawad, Mahdi, Humam; Mohanad, Ammar

3.52pmBoth sides have made a few changes to their lineups for this one. Ghana welcome a couple of players back from suspension, including captain Lawrence Lartey and 16-year-old Moses Odjer. Iraq, meanwhile, have handed a start to Ammar Abdulhussein, leaving top scorer Farhan Shakor on the bench.

3.54pmGhana will be looking towards Frank Acheampong and Ebenezer Assifuah to provide their main threats. The duo have forged a deadly partnership and can really causes problems if given the space to run in to. Assifuah is Ghana's top scorer with five goals, and one goal today would see him move clear at the top of the tournament's top scorer list, putting him in pole position to claim the golden boot, which is currently going to Portugal's Bruma.

3.55pmPREDICTION: We're five minutes from kickoff here, which means that it is time for my prediction! I anticipate a thoroughly entertaining match this afternoon, and it could well go to extra time. I reckon Ghana just have enough about them to win it, but it will certainly be a close one. I'll go for 3-2 to Ghana, possibly after extra time. There will be goals.

3.57pmWe've had a look at Ghana's dangermen, so it's only fair that we identify Iraq's too. With Farhan not starting, they will be looking to Asian Young Player of the Year Mohanad Adbulraheem to provide their main threat. He is one that Ghana will have to keep a close eye on, and they will also have to be aware of the dangerous full-back Ali Adnan.

3.59pmWhatever happens, I am expecting a very good match. With nothing really to lose, these teams should put on a spectacle. They enjoy playing quick, flowing football at all times, and this may just be the perfect opportunity to exhibit such styles.

4pmOK, the players are lined up and we're just about ready to go in Istanbul. The referee today in Sandro Ricci from Brazil, who we could be seeing in the senior World Cup next year.

0 minKICKOFF: Ghana get us underway in this match amidst a fine atmosphere in the stadium.

1 minIraq make an immediate surge forward and Ammar sends a dangerous low cross in that Ofori has to deal with. Iraq come straight back at Ghana, but their eventual shot is bundled wide.

3 minThis game has started at a frenetic pace and it is great to see. Both teams look to counter attack very quickly, so we can expect plenty of chances this afternoon.

5 minIraq are knocking on the door early on here. This time a floated ball forward find Jawad the wrong side of the defence, but his looping header is not troubling the Ghana goal and goes well wide.

6 minAboagye makes his first powerful run forward before feeding Ashia, who is dispossessed after a loose first touch. Aboagye can be a real threat with those runs from midfield, and Iraq will need to keep a close eye on him.

7 minHumam finds himself in space inside the Ghanaian half and can't resist the urge to have a dig from range. His shot is not one of his best, though, as he drags it harmlessly wide. Still, a very bright start to this match by Iraq.

8 minAli Adnan is the latest to let fly from range for Iraq, and he does have a very good shot on him. He doesn't catch this one too sweetly, but it bounces awkwardly in front of Ofori who does well to hold on to it.

10 minIraq are getting plenty of joy down the left flank, but the final deliveries are not finding green shirts in the middle. Dhurgham is the latest to send one over, but again it is too long for anyone in the middle. Ofori does look uncomfortable with them at the moment, though.

12 minGhana have their first free kick in a good crossing position, which is an area that Iraq have struggled with at times in this competition. They have nothing to worry about on this occasion, however, as Odjer's delivery fails to beat the first man.

13 minLook out for plenty of long shots from Ashia, he just doesn't seem to be able to turn them down! This is his first of the day, but he drags it well wide. Expect to see a lot of that too.

15 minGhana have settled in this game now after a very bright start from Iraq. The African side are seeing more of the ball than their opponents now as they begin to put pressure on the defence.

17 minSpeaking of the Iraq defence, it seems as if Ali Adnan has been given a man-on-man marking job on Acheampong. Clearly Iraq feel that he is Ghana's biggest threat, so they have put their best defensive player on him. It is a clever tactic, but it also means that Adnan may not have as big an effect on the game as he would usually have, certainly not in an attacking sense.

19 minIraq have a decent opening after Addico was caught in possession by Dhurgham. The Asian side worked it into the box but Mahdi Kamil's shot was expertly blocked, leaving the Iraqi player in a writhing heap of agony on the floor. That one looks painful.

21 minIt's been an even opening 20 minutes and, although we haven't had a goal or even a clear chance, it has been a decent game to watch. Both sides are looking to get forward in numbers whenever possible, which in turn leaves space for the other side to break if they win the ball back.

23 minHaving said that, it has got a little scrappy in the last few minutes. The ball is stuck in the middle third and, every time it is played forward, the opposition defence sends it straight back.

25 minAttamah has been forced to make a number of crucial blocks and interceptions already this afternoon. The latest sees him stop a cross with Iraq in a promising position before keeping the ball in play and clearing his lines. Very good defending.

27 minIraq come forward once again, but Ghana's defence is holding firm at the moment. Another failed attack sees the ball bounce back to Mahdi on the edge of the box, but his snapshot ends up high and wide.

29 minIraq have dealt with Acheampong very well so far in this one. He has only broken free of his marker a couple of times but, even then, there has been a covering defender to deal with the danger.

30 minSHOT! Assifuah gets his first sight of goal as Ashia gives him the ball on the right side of the area. He drills it low towards the near post, but can only find the side netting.

31 minSCRAMBLE! Almost a gift for Iraq there! A ball into the box could be easily cleared by Lartey, but the skipper instead tries to chest it back to his keeper. He gets it all wrong, however, creating a goalmouth scramble that Ghana eventually hack clear.

33 minBaba makes a trademark surge forward down the left but his attempted cross is bundled behind for a corner to the African side.

35 minGOAL! Ghana 1-0 Iraq (Joseph Attamah)

36 minI mentioned Attamah's good work defensively earlier, but now he has made a huge impact at the other end. Odjer's corner is a good one and Attamah attacks it well at the near post. The defending leaves a lot to be desired, but Hameed in goal didn't exactly help them. He came out to claim the ball but got nowhere near it, allowing Attamah to just guide his header in.

37 minSAVE! Hameed is called upon again almost immediately afterwards, but he deals with it better this time. Assifuah let fly from the edge of the box and, although he didn't quite catch it as he would have liked, his shot forced Hameed to scramble across his goal to keep it out.

39 minIraq have another half-chance, but again the Ghanaian defence throw themselves in the way of every shot. Fine defending from the African side, although they will want to ensure that such last-ditch defending is kept to a minimum.

41 minGhana look like they are preparing a sub at the moment, which I assume would be due to an injury. No Ghana player looks particularly troubled out there at the moment to me, but it is Nketiah who looks set to come on.

43 minWe're now hearing that Ghana will wait until the break to make the sub, which tells me that they are hopeful they can work on any injury over the 15-minute break.

45 minGOAL! Ghana 2-0 Iraq (Ebenezer Assifuah)

45 minGhana double their lead just before the break! It is superb play from Ebenezer Assifuah, who shows great acceleration to beat his man before hitting a low strike back across goal and just inside the post. Brilliant finish from Assifuah who is now in pole position to claim the golden boot. That is his sixth goal of the tournament.

45 minHALF TIME: Ghana 2-0 Iraq

4.52pmNo added time at the end of the first half as Ghana strike with one of the last kicks of the half. It is a great time to score, and suddenly Iraq's task looks a lot harder. They are unbeaten in normal or extra time in this tournament so far, but they will need an almighty effort in the second half to maintain that record.

4.54pmIt was Joseph Attamah who opened the scoring with a glancing header from Moses Odjer's corner, and Assifuah's strike just 10 minutes later puts the African side in a commanding position at the break. Assifuah will be delighted on a personal level as it means that he is the tournament's top scorer. Another goal in the second half would mean only a hat-trick from either Yaya Sanogo or Nicolas Lopez in the final would see him lose that crown.

4.56pmIraq can feel hard done by after that half. They enjoyed the majority of the ball and had the best sights of goal before Ghana opened the scoring. They certainly don't deserve to be two goals down at this stage, and they could make a good claim that they are the team who deserve to be in the lead.

4.58pmOne thing that may encourage Iraq is that Ghana will not park the bus. They may, naturally, be a little less gung-ho in attack, but it simply isn't in their nature to sit back and defend a lead. They will still be committing plenty of players forward in the second half, which should leave gaps at the back for Iraq to exploit.

5pmOn the flip side, however, there is always the danger that Ghana will get another. It is imperative for Iraq that they score the next goal in this one. If Ghana go 3-0 up it is very hard to see a way back for the Asian side.

5.02pmThere are more goals in this one, I'm sure. Iraq need to score, and as I mentioned previously, Ghana aren't a team to sit back and defend. As Iraq begin to pour more men forward, they will also leave gaps at the back and Ghana can be devastating on the counter.

5.04pmThe players are on their way back out now for the final 45 minutes of their World Cup campaigns. If this match ends as a draw we will go straight to penalties as the final is on the same pitch straight after.

5.04pmGHANA SUB: That substitution I was alluding to at the end of the half has indeed taken place as Nketiah comes on for Addico. That's a straight swap at right-back.

45 minKICKOFF: Right, we're back underway here as Iraq begin the second half. Can they pull off what would be a very impressive comeback in this second half?

47 minIraq have a free kick in a very promising position after a clumsy challenge from Lartey. The kick is around 25 yards out, just to the left of the area.

48 minSAVE! Ali Faez, Iraq's free kick specialist, hammers a powerful effort around the wall, but it is straight at Ofori. He opts not to catch it, instead pushing it away in unorthodox fashion.

50 minAcheampong has been uncharacteristically quiet so far, and a lot of credit has to go to the Iraq defence for that. They have marked him out of the game so far.

52 minAli Faez sends a decent cross into the box from a free kick, but Ofori does well to come and punch it clear. He has been quite good in those situations today and always seem willing to come out and relieve the pressure on his defence.

54 minThat is superb team defending from Ghana. Iraq moved up the field into an advanced position, but as a side Ghana pressured them all the way back into a shaky pass back that almost allows Assifuah in.

55 minIRAQ SUB: Iraq make their first change of the match and it is their top scorer Farhan Shakor who is coming on. That is a positive replacement as he comes on for Mahdi Kamil.

57 minAli Adnan almost makes things happen for Iraq as he bursts into the box and shows great footwork to get past a Ghana defender before eventually being crowded out. They need to get him involved more in an attacking sense here.

59 minIt has been a fairly slow start to the second half. Iraq, as expected, are the team who are looking most like scoring, while Ghana seem content to invite pressure before trying to hit Iraq on the break.

61 minGhana's defence all looks very last-gasp, but it is working for them at the moment. Attamah takes four attempts before finally getting the ball half clear following a cross into the box, which pretty much sums up their match so far. Not exactly textbook defending, but ultimately effective.

63 minSAVE! Humam shows good balance and strength to hold off a challenge in midfield before shooting from 25 yards out. His effort gets the Iraq fans excited, but it is straight at Ofori, who holds on to it comfortably.

64 minSalifu flashes a long range shot well over the bar, and he is followed swiftly by Aboagye, who also blazes his shot well over. Worth a go on both occasions, however.

65 minGHANA SUB: Moses Odjer is being forced off with an injury here, which is not how the 16-year-old would have liked to end his campaign. He is replaced by Anaba in what is a straight swap.

66 minDecent opening for Ghana as Acheampong attacks the heart of the defence. The Africans have a three-on-two situation, but Acheampong's pass is just too heavy for Ashia, who can't get it under control and is forced out wide before losing possession. That was a wasted opportunity.

68 minAmmar races to the edge of the box and manages to get a shot away, but he is off balance and slices his effort wide. Another decent sight of goal for Iraq, but they still haven't had any clear-cut chances.

69 minIRAQ SUB: Iraq make their second change of the day as Ammar's miss is his last action. He is replaced by Ihab Kadhim, which is a defensive change on paper.

70 minMy word, what is Hameed doing?! He initially does well to beat Assifuah to a through ball but then decides to showcase his skills as an outfield player, trying to take on Aboagye halfway inside his own half! Aboagye almost dispossesses the keeper, but Hameed is helped out by a teammate and Iraq eventually get it clear.

72 minGhana are still looking to come forward and add to their tally in this match, and that is why they are so good to watch. It may not be the most tactically sound idea, but you can't fault them in terms of entertainment. They are now joint-top scorers in the tournament, by the way.

74 minAli Adnan always seems to be involved when Iraq threaten Ghana's goal, but even he can't find a way through his Ghana defence at the moment. Yet another block hands Iraq another corner, which comes to nothing as Ofori claims it well.

76 minOFF THE LINE! Acheampong finally gets a chance to operate inside the box, reaching the byline in trademark fashion before pulling a low cross into the middle. It is expertly cleared by Faez on the line, and he needed to do that as Assifuah was lurking.

78 minGOAL! Ghana 3-0 Iraq (Frank Acheampong)

80 minThat's it, game over. Ghana surely now claim the bronze with their third goal, which also makes them the tournament's top scorers. Assifuah floats a good ball over the top to Acheampong, who has timed his run to perfection. He only has Hameed to beat and makes easy work of it, firing it past the Iraqi keeper.

81 minIRAQ SUB: Iraq respond to that goal by making their third and final change of the match. On comes Mohammed Jabbar Shwkan for Jawad Kadhim. That's a striker for a midfielder, so they may not have completely given up on this one yet.

82 minGHANA SUB: Ashia has been disappointing today, as he was in the semi-final. He makes way for Francis Narh, who makes his fifth appearance of the finals.

83 minRichard Ofori looked a little shaky under the high ball in the early stages of this match but, since then, he has been brilliant at coming to collect crosses.

84 minAli Adnan is playing in an advanced role now, and he picks up the ball inside the Ghana half with only one thing on his mind. He turns immediately and fires a long-range shot that bounces a few yards wide.

86 minIraq look resigned to their fate now as they are shooting whenever they are in range rather than trying to construct a better chance. Even with this result, they will be delighted with their performance at these finals, and rightly so.

88 minSAVE! Almost a consolation goal for Iraq as Farhan sent a curling ball into the box towards Mohanad. The striker took it down well, but before he could pull the trigger Ofori was out to smother the shot. Good goalkeeping again.

90 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+3 minFULL TIME: Ghana 3-0 Iraq

5.54pmThe referee brings an end to the match, and Ghana have clinched third place in the Under-20 World Cup! It is a big achievement for the African side, and also for Iraq, who have surpassed all expectations to finish fourth.

5.56pmGoals from Joseph Attamah, Ebenezer Assifuah and Frank Acheampong handed Ghana what turned out to be a routine victory. Assifuah's goal is particularly notable as it puts him top of the goalscoring list for the tournament. He will face a nervous wait during the final with Yaya Sanogo and Nicolas Lopez in a position to challenge his Golden Boot claim, but as it stands, the award is his.

5.58pmBig congratulations to both sides, then. Neither were expected to make it this far, and as such we have the unusual scene of fans and players from the losing team still happy after the final whistle. Iraq would have liked to put up more of a fight in this match and, to be fair, they didn't deserve to lose by three goals, but they can be justifiably proud of their performance throughout the tournament.

6pmThat's it from me for this game! Congratulations again to Ghana who claim third place in the Under-20 World Cup. I will leave you with Jack Prescott's match report, and be sure to check back in around 15 minutes for live coverage of the final between Uruguay and France. Until then, goodbye!

Ghana's Ebenezer Assifuah celebrates scoring during the Under-20 World Cup quarter final soccer match between Ghana and Chile on July 7, 2013
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