Steve Mounie of Benin is challenged by Nuhu Adams Kasim of Ghana during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals game between Ghana and Benin at Ismailia Stadium in Ismailia, Egypt on 25 June 2019. EPA/Ryan Wilkisky
Tuesday Jun 25, 2019. 23:51
Benin provided one of the surprise results of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations thus far when they held Ghana 2-2 at the Ismailia Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Black Stars – who played more than a third of the game with just 10 men – already find themselves two points off the pace of Group F leaders Cameroon, who beat Guinea-Bissau earlier in the evening.
As for the Squirrels, their performance merited a share of the spoils and featured two well-taken goals from Mickael Pote, the first player to score more than once in the tournament.
Benin got off to a flying start and scored the earliest goal in the AFCON to date, taking the lead in just the second minute.
Steve Mounie played a perfectly-weighted pass in behind the square defence of Ghana and Mickael Pote sprinted onto it, before neatly stepping inside a challenge from Lumor Agbeyenu and stabbing a shot past goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Yet Ghana were not behind for long: in the ninth minute they levelled the game at 1-1 through a fine strike from Andre Ayew, who picked up a pass in the box from his brother Jordan, held off a defender and sent a low shot just inside the left-hand post of goalkeeper Fabien Farnolle.
After such an explosive start, the teams went into their shells somewhat and chances were hard to come by for almost all of the remainder of the first half. However, Ghana created one more opportunity and capitalised on it to ensure a 2-1 lead at the interval.
Defender Kasim Adams Nuhu played a fine pass from inside his half which allowed Jordan Ayew to turn his marker before sending an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net in the 42nd minute of the match.
Ghana appeared to be in control of the game in the second half, but just nine minutes after the restart they were reduced to 10 men. Defender John Boye, already on a yellow card, was shown a second caution for time wasting and sent for an early shower.
Benin, now with a numerical advantage, restored parity at 2-2 in the 63rd minute. The Squirrels worked a corner kick short before opening up an angle to drive a dangerous low ball into the danger area, and Pote was on hand to score with a back-heel and rack up his second goal of the night.
The Black Stars nearly reclaimed the lead on 70 minutes through a thunderbolt shot direct from a free kick by Thomas Partey, but Farnolle did exceptionally well to palm the ball away for a corner kick.
That proved to be the last notable attacking highlight of the match, as the opponents settled for a point apiece.
The teams will be back in action on Saturday 29 June, with Ghana taking on Cameroon and Benin facing Guinea-Bissau – both games will be held at the Ismailia Stadium.
Ghana (2) 2 (A. Ayew 9’, J. Ayew 42’)
Benin (1) 2 (Pote 2’ 63’)
Ghana: Ofori, Yiadom, Boye, Nuhu, Agbeyenu, Wakaso, Partey, Agyepong (Owusu 35’ [Mensah 59’]), Atsu, A. Ayew (Acquah 90’), J. Ayew
Benin: Farnolle, Baraze, Adilehou (Seibou 62’), Adenon, Verdon, Imorou, Pote, d’Almeida (Dossou 63’), Adeoti, Soukou (Djigla 83’), Mounie