The Black Stars of Ghana put up a spirited effort by thumping Congo 5-1 in Kintele on Tuesday to put their World Cup hopes back on track.
A hat-trick from Thomas Partey and a brace by Richmond Boakye-Yiadom saw the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists rout over their Congolese counterparts.
Dolan Bahamboula got the first shot on target for Congo in just 2 minutes after shooting straight into the arms of goalkeeper Richard Ofori following a quick counter break.
The Black Stars however looked settled and composed despite the early threat from the home side.
Great exchange of passes from the Congolese sparked lights into their game and took the whole stadium on fire as they continued to threaten the goal area of the Stars.
Thievy Bifouma almost got the opening goal for Congo in 9 minutes after making his way through the Ghanaian defense to take a strike only for Richard Ofori to save the ball with his legs as the home team kept dominating.
A good run from Christian Atsu on the right saw him send a cross into the penalty box of the Congolese after a nice dummy but the defense were quick to clear their lines.
Richmond Boakye-Yiadom got Ghana’s first shot on target with a decent strike in the 14th minute after receiving a through pass from Christian Atsu.
Winger Thomas Agyepong was denied a penalty call after he looked to have been pushed down in the box by Congo defender Clevid Dikamona in the 16th minute.
After an early scare from Congo, the Black Stars took over the game as they dominated play and finally rewarded themselves with a goal from striker Richmond Boakye-Yiadom in the 23rd minute after the forward tapped in from close range, thanks to a good work down the left by Thomas Agyepong.
Thomas Partey doubled Ghana’s lead 3 minutes later with a powerful drive from six yards after another excellent run from Christian Atsu on the right side of attack. The Newcastle United man outpaced Congo defender Vladis-Emmerson Illoy-Ayyet and sent in a low cross to Boakye Yiadom whose effort was blocked but for a follow up by the Atletico Madrid midfielder.
The Black Stars continued to control the pace of the game as the Congolese were left tattered in midfield.
Congo Coach Sebastian Migne was forced to make a change in the 33rd minute by bringing on forward Rahavi Minimbou Kifoueti for defender Clevid Dikamona.
Bel Durel Avounou’s powerful strike went flying over the bar after a nice pass from Thievy Bifouma in the 36th minute as Congo kept searching for a consolation.
Goalkeeper Richard Ofori stood up for Ghana by denying Congo a consolation after saving Dolan Bahamboula’s free kick in the 41st minute.
Vladis-Emmerson Illoy-Ayyet grabbed the much-needed consolation for Congo from a powerful header in the 42nd minute after a well-delivered cross from Bahamboula. The goal however seemed to have brought the home fans back to light.
Their celebration would however be cut shot after Thomas Partey once again got on the score sheet by scoring from an acute angle when he squeezed the ball past Congo goalkeeper Barel Morial Mouko having been played through by Christian Atsu with just a minute left to half time as the African giants went into the break with a 3-1 lead.
Congo started the second half similarly as the first half by creating early opportunities after recess. Minimbou Kifoueti’s cross eloped Thievy Bifouma who was racing into the box.
Congo skipper Thievy Bifouma continued to be a thorn in the flesh for the Ghanaian defense with his strength and agility in attack.
Coach Kwesi Appiah brought Alfred Duncan for Ebenezer Ofori in the 56th minute to stabilize the Black Stars midfield.
Fabrice Nguessa was replaced by Mavis Tchibota after the former suffered an injury.
Goalkeeper Richard Ofori once again produced a fine save from Dolan Bahamboula’s effort in the 60th minute. Congo looked more purposeful upfront in the second half by creating more decent opportunities.
Dolan Bahamboula looked dangerous with his set pieces and nearly got a goal for Congo with yet another wonderful free kick in the 66th minute.
Jeffrey Schlupp came on for Lumor Agbeneynu who failed to return to the pitch after sustaining an injury.
Congo midfielder Bel Durel Avounou gifted a pass to Thomas Partey at a dangerous position as the Atletico Madrid star made no mistake by scoring his third of the day in the 69th minute.
Thievy Bifouma was unlucky to crown his outstanding performance with a goal as his effort hit the upright in the 71st minute.
Winger Thomas Agyepong nearly got Ghana’s fifth after racing through the Congo defense only for his effort to deflect to corner. Partey’s goal looked to have demoralize Congo as the Black Stars kept enjoy position.
Norway-based Edwin Gyasi marked his debut by coming on for three-goal hero Thomas Partey in the 77th minute.
Striker Richmond Boakye Yiadom made matter worse for the home side by scoring the fifth for the Black Stars with just 6 minute left on the clock.
The result keeps Ghana at third position in the group with 5 points from four matches.
Ghana will next play Uganda in the World Cup qualifiers as they hope for make yet another World Cup appearance.
By Frank Darkwah