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Partey, Boateng score in Black Stars’ 2-0 win over Japan

Stars celebrate Emmanuel Boateng’s debut goal at the Nissan Sports Stadium

Goals from captain Thomas Partey and Emmanuel Boateng gave Ghana’s Black Stars a 2-0 win over the Samurai Blue of Japan on Wednesday.

The match was a preparation match for the Japanese, who will play in Group H of next month’s 2018 FIFA World Cup. They open with Colombia before taking on Poland and Senegal.

Though the match was to test the readiness of Akira Nishino’s side ahead of the world cup, the Africans began the stronger side, opening the score under 10 minutes.

Atletico Madrid’s Partey hit a low free kick to beat Gamba Osaka’s Masaaki Higashiguchi in post for Japan.

The goal may have provoked the Asian side, who were playing in front of their fans at Yokohama’s Nissan Sports Stadium.

Their forays into the goal area of the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists forced spectacular saves from goalkeeper Richard Ofori.

Ofori, however, went down injured in the 40th minute, resulting in a temporary hold-up of the game.

When play resumed, the Stars got a free kick right behind Japan’s penalty area but the resultant kick was well saved by Higashiguchi.

The two sides went on break with possession even.

With defeat staring them in the face in front of their fans, the Samurai Blue came from the break a more revitalized side making a quick incursion into the Stars’ box.

Nishino made three substitutions for the second half.

Just a minute into the half, Mainz 05’s Yoshinori Mutō got a begging chance but he headed wide in what beggared belief.

Shinji Kagawa, who was one of the three to come on in the second half, also hit a low shot, which was saved by Ofori, in the 48th minute.

Two minutes later, goal-bound Boateng was brought down in the penalty box and the referee straightaway pointed to the spot.

The Levante striker picked the ball and sent Higashiguchi the wrong way to score his debut goal for his country.

The Stars had another chance a minute later to stretch the lead to 3-0 but Partey shot wide off-target.

Nishino made two quick substitutions with Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki replacing veteran and former AC Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda, who now plies his trade in Mexico with Pachuca, and Getafe’s Gaku Shibasaki replacing Eibar’s Takashi Inui.

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah was forced into his first substitution after Alanyaspor’s Isaac Sackey was stretchered off. Appiah brought in Kasim Nuhu of Young Boys.

Appiah later brought in Edwin Gyasi for Rashid Sumaila to complete his substitution for the day.

Japan continued knocking on the door of the Stars to at least reduce the deficit but all attempts failed.

Muto shot wide from a corner kick, which had resulted from a great punch over the bar by Maritzburg United’s Ofori.

The hosts, at this point, shaded possession, leading 55 per cent to the Stars’ 45.

With 10 minutes to go, Boateng was brought down in an attempt to go past Yōsuke Ideguchi, who had come on for captain Makoto Hasebe.

Boateng limped off and was replaced by Bayern Munich’s Kwasi Okyere Wriedt.

An injury time chance for Japan was missed as Inui shot wide. It was definitely not a game for Japan, who will release their final 23-man squad for the World Cup on Thursday.

Ghana won 2-0 with the next challenge scheduled for Thursday, June 7 against Iceland.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana

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