Ayew hat-trick takes Ghana to the top of Group I

Ayew hat-trick takes Ghana to the top of Group I
Jordan Ayew of Ghana ©Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jun 10, 2024. 23:08

Jordan Ayew scored a hat-trick of goals as Ghana defeated Central African Republic 4-3 in a thrilling 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier played at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Monday night.

The Black Stars looked to be in trouble when they trailed 1-2 at half time to a double from Louis Mafouta (who also went on to complete a hat-trick), but Ayew struck his second and third goals either side of one from Issahaku Fatawu to ensure the hosts claimed all three points and climbed to the top of Group I on nine points. The Wild Beasts are fifth on four points.

Ghana got off to a flying start and claimed the lead in just the fifth minute, as Ayew converted from the penalty spot to make it 1-0. Fatawu earned the penalty for the hosts after driving into the 18-yard area.

Central African Republic hit back just six minutes later, as Geoffrey Kondogbia teed up Mafouta to score past goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi for 1-1.

The hosts looked to force their way back in front, but CAR stood firm in defence and capitalised on a scoring chance late in the first half, with Isaac Solet setting up Mafouta to net in the 41st minute and ensure that the visitors had a 2-1 advantage at the break.

The Black Stars should have reclaimed the lead early in the second stanza, with Mohammed Kudus doing great work to set up Kamaldeen Sulemana with a virtual open goal, but the Southampton man blazed an effort off target.

Giedon Mensah also headed just wide after more good work from Kudus, as Ghana began to pile the pressure on.

And the hosts were rewarded in the 60th minute, as Ayew latched onto an assist from Mensah and scored his second of the night to make it 2-2.

Just two minutes later the Black Stars surged ahead at 3-2, with Thomas Partey assisting for Fatawu to send an effort past goalkeeper Dominique Youfeigane.

And on 69 minutes Ayew completed his treble, sending another strike beyond the reach of Youfeigane. The 32-year-old’s second senior international hat-trick came almost exactly 10 years to the day after his first, which saw him strike three goals in a 4-0 friendly win over South Korea on 9 June 2014.

Yet Ghana were not able to coast to victory, as Mafouta completed his own hat-trick in the 90th minute – with a brilliant hit from a free kick – ensuring a tense period of added time in which the hosts needed to hold their nerve to keep hold of the three points.

Ghana (1) 4 (J. Ayew 5’ pen, 60’, 69’ Fatawu 62’)

Central African Republic (2) 3 (L. Mafouta 11’, 41’ 90’)

Ghana: L. Ati Zigi, S. Abdul Samed, J. Ayew (E. Owusu 76’), A. Djiku, I. Fatawu (A. Mumin 76’), M. Kudus (B. Thomas-Asante 89’), G. Mensah, T. Partey, M. Salisu, A. Seidu, K. Sulemana (K. Semenyo 64’)

CAR: D. Youfeigane, V. Baboula (C. Yawanendji-Malipangou 64’), G. Kondogbia (T. Godame 68’), L. Mafouta, K. Namnganda (T. Toropite 76’), S. Ndobe, B. Pirioua, I. Solet, S. Tatolna, F. Yangao, A. Youga

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