World Cup - Quick-starting US kick off with victory over Ghana

John Brooks headed a late winner and Clint Dempsey scored the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history as USA beat Ghana 2-1 in their Group G opener in Natal.

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World Cup - Quick-starting US kick off with victory over Ghana
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Clint Dempsey (AFP)

John Brooks headed a late winner and Clint Dempsey scored the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history as USA beat Ghana 2-1 in their Group G opener in Natal.

Former Fulham man Dempsey stunned the Black Stars after just 29 seconds when he latched onto a pass from Jermaine Jones, skipped beyond John Boye and coolly fired a left-foot shot across Adam Kwarasey into the bottom corner.

Sunderland hitman Jozy Altidore then fluffed a great chance to double the lead on 19 minutes before seeing his tournament all-but ended when he pulled up with a hamstring injury.

Ghana responded in the second half and eventually equalised eight minutes from time when Asamoah Gyan back heeled to Andre Ayew who flashed a shot beyond Tim Howard at his near post.

It was a huge blow for Juergen Klinsmann's men but they responded with true grit and won it on 86 minutes when substitute Brooks nodded home his first goal for his country from a corner.

[THE WORLD CUP'S FASTEST GOALS]

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KEY MOMENTS

PRE-MATCH: No Boateng or Essien, but Gyan starts. Ghana line-up without two of their star names, former Chelsea midfielder Essien and Schalke playmaker, Kevin Prince-Boateng. The USA go with a strike pair familiar to Premier League fans in the shape of Ex-Fulham attacker, Clint Dempsey and Sunderland's Altidore.

1' - GOAL! USA 1-0 GHANA. The US strike inside 29 seconds! It's Clint Dempsey. The ex-Fulham man picks up a pass on the left, slaloms past his marker and coolly fires into the far corner. Incredible start!

15' - GHANA CHANCE! Superb goalkeeping by Howard who dashes off his line to thwart Gyan after a slide-rule pass from Christian Atsu parted the USA defence.

19' - USA CHANCE! A good move down the right sees the ball fall to Altidore who crashes his shot into a defender when he looked certain to score.

21' - INJURY. Altidore chases a ball down the line and pulls up clutching his hamstring. It could be curtains for his World Cup.

45+5' - GHANA CHANCE! A Ghana corner right at the death, but it's easily driven away. The USA mess up their breakaway though and Atsu feeds Andre Ayew who scuffs his shot from 10 yards with the goal at his mercy.

56' - GHANA CHANCE! A great ball in from the left finds Gyan unmarked but the striker plants his header over the bar. Gilt-edged as they say.

82' - GOAL! USA 1-1 GHANA. Ghana are level! A lovely move down the left sees Gyan back heel into the path of Andre Ayew who fires a lovely effort beyond howard at his near post.

86' - GOAL! USA 2-1 GHANA. USA are back in front! John Brooks rises to power Zusi's header into the net. Bedlam in the stadium!

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TALKING POINT

Can the US upset Portugal? This game was seen as must-win in the context of a group containing Portugal and Germany. The latter look all-set to top the pool following their impressive demolition of Cristiano Ronaldo and co, and if confidence is low in their camp, this spirited US side could yet take advantage to sneak into the last 16.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

KEY STATS

Clint Dempsey’s goal (29 seconds) was the fifth fastest in World Cup history.

USA did not manage another shot on target until the 63rd minute.

USA scored more than once for only the third time in their last 12 World Cup games.

USA have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine World Cup games.

Ghana had 21 shots, a joint-high in the World Cup so far (along with Ivory Coast) but only three of the 21 were on target.

USA led in this game for more than 90 minutes (including injury time) after leading for only four mins and 20 seconds in the 2010 World Cup (across four games).

Clint Dempsey has now scored in three successive World Cups, with two of his three goals coming against Ghana.

USA’s pass completion was 73% which is the second lowest seen in the World Cup so far (only Iran with 72% vs Nigeria have shown lower).

Daniel Opare made 11 crosses, three more than the USA did in total, but only two reached a team-mate.

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Geoff Cameron (USA): It could have been any one of half a dozen US players who gave absolutely everything, but Cameron was a rock throughout and made some vital tackles and interceptions as Ghana probed for most of the second half. Superb from the Stoke City man.

[KLINSMANN MAINTAINS INCREDIBLE WORLD CUP RECORD]

PLAYER RATINGS

GHANA: Kwarasey 5, Opare 6, Boye 6, Rabiu 6, Mensah 6, Muntari 6, J. Ayew 6, Asamoah 6, Atsu 7, A. Ayew 7, Gyan 7. Subs: Boateng 7, Essien 5, Adomah 5.

USA: Howard 7, Besler 7, Bedoya 7, Beckerman 7, Cameron 8, Beasley 7, Johnson 7, Bradley 7, Jones 7, Dempsey 8, Altidore 6. Subs: Johansson 6, Brooks 7, Zusi 6.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

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