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Soccer News of Wednesday, 7 February 2007

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Ghana hammer Nigeria in a friendly

London - Goals from Laryea Kingson, Sulley Muntari, Junior Agogo and substitute Asamoah Frimpong clinched a comfortable win for Claude Le Roy's side - and prompted extravagant celebrations from the Ghanaian fans, dozens of whom charged on to the pitch after the second and third goals.

The Super Eagles earned a consolation through Taiwo Taye's 65th-minute penalty, but Ghana's attacking prowess proved too much for a Nigeria side in which Chelsea midfielder Mikel Jon Obi was surprisingly included.

Mikel was not expected to feature in the match, after Blues manager Jose Mourinho said he had picked up a thigh injury which would rule him out for two weeks. But the young playmaker played for the full match, while club-mate Michael Essien managed 87 minutes for Ghana.

There was no sign, however, of Obafemi Martins in the 18-man Nigeria squad - despite Newcastle saying the forward had been given permission to play.

In the 11th minute, Mikel played a superb through ball to John Utaka, whose close-range effort was blocked smartly by Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson. Six minutes before that, Laryea Kingson almost gave Ghana the lead when his curling cross from the left was missed by team-mate Agogo but was palmed away by Vincent Enyeama in the nick of time.

In the seventh minute, Kingson fired just wide from 30 yards.

Mourinho would have been watching intently when Essien fell awkwardly under a Nigerian challenge in the ninth minute.

The Chelsea midfielder spent almost two minutes off the field with what appeared to be pain in his back, before he rejoined the action.

Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari both came close for Ghana, but the best chance of the half fell to Mikel - who put a free header over the bar from eight yards after he had been picked out by Utaka's right-wing cross.

Ghana went back on the attack, with Gyan blazing well wide after fine work from Essien and Stephen Appiah - and Iliasu Alhassan shooting over an open goal after Enyeama had flapped at a corner.

A minute before the break, Muntari headed John Mensah's long cross too close to Enyeama.

Ghana found the attacking edge their first-half play had lacked, scoring three times in the first 15 minutes of the second period.

Laryea Kingson gave them the lead with a low shot from 20 yards in the 50th minute, with Muntari adding a stunning second four minutes later - a searing drive into the roof of the net from an acute ankle.

Le Roy's men then made it three on the hour mark with a delightful goal, Gyan collecting Appiah's superb pass before crossing from the right for Agogo to volley in smartly at the near post.

Ghana briefly lost their cool five minutes later, though, Hans Adu Sarpei bringing down Utaka for a penalty which Taiwo calmly converted.

But the Black Stars soon recovered their composure - Appiah, Gyan and Essien combining to set up substitute Frimpong who guided in the fourth from 10 yards after 76 minutes.

Nigeria, in truth, were comprehensively outplayed, far from their billing as the highest-ranked African team according to the FIFA/Coca-Cola world ranking.

From start to finish Ghana looked the better organised. It helped, to start with, that they turned up on time, left waiting 30 minutes for Nigeria, who do little to avert the sense that they teeter forever on a precipice of their own making.

Not that they were the only ones whose organisational ability was called into question on Wednesday night.

Long queues formed outside the ground, with ticket staff apparently over-run, and the stewarding was utterly ineffectual in the face of repeated pitch invasions.

Ghana lineup: Richard Kingston, Hans Adu Sarpie , Habib Mohammed (John Paintsil, 45), Shilla Illiasu, John Mensah, Stephen Appiah (Eric Addo, 82), Michael Essien (Francis Dikoh, 88), Laryea Kingston (Derek Asamoah), Sulley Ali Muntari, Junior Agogo (Asamoah Frimpong, 75), Asamoah Gyan.

Nigeria: Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama, Taye Taiwo, Joseph Yobo, Obinna Nwaneri, Christian Obodo, George Abbey, John Utaka, Seyi Olofinjana (Aeyegbeni Yakubu, 76), Osaze Odemwinge, Adoyele Makinwa (Julius Aghahowa, 34), John Obi Mikel.