South Korea 2-3 Ghana: Player ratings as Black Stars edge World Cup classic

Sean Walsh
Kudus scored a brace
Kudus scored a brace / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Ghana managed to stave off a South Korea comeback to claim their first win at the 2022 World Cup.

Paulo Bento's men came from two goals down to draw level in a thrilling second half, before Otto Addo's side edged themselves back in front and weathered one hell of a storm to take the three points.

The first half of the opening 45 was dominated by South Korea, who managed to completely pen Ghana in and rack up a staggering seven corners, but were unable to carve out too many clear openings.

And they were made to pay for not taking advantage of this early dominance as the Black Stars took a 24th minute lead, with Mohammed Salisu scrambling in a whipped free-kick from Jordan Ayew. The goal was allowed to stand following a lengthy VAR check against Andre Ayew for a potential handball amid the chaos.

Ghana added a second ten minutes later after another fantastic cross from Jordan Ayew was this time deftly headed in by Mohammed Kudus, whose run into the box had gone untracked.

South Korea's first real sight of goal came from all of 25 yards after Ghana's backline swarmed Son Heung-min, teeing up the open Kwon Chang-hoon to strike, with Lawrence Ati-Zigi tipping it up and over.

At the end of the first half, a corner from Jordan Ayew nearly snuck all the way in at Kim Seung-gyu's near post, but he managed to get a glove and divert it wide off of Thomas Partey's shoulder.

Paulo Bento opted to move Son closer to striker Cho Gue-sung in the second half, with the Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors forward testing Ati-Zigi with a diving header following a cross from free left-back Kim Jin-su shortly after the restart.

And another of Bento's changes made the difference as South Korea pulled one back. Substitute Lee Kang-in robbed Tariq Lamptey of the ball and crossed for Cho to head in after evading Salisu's weak marking.

Minutes later, Cho grabbed his brace, this time jumping high above Gideon Mensah to meet Kim's high ball from the byline to level the scores.

For all of their hard work, South Korea fell behind again seven minutes after equalising. Mensah's cutback was sliced by Inaki Williams, but Kudus was on hand to sweep in at the back post.

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Ati-Zigi had to quickly scramble in order to push Lee's 25-yard free-kick behind, before Salisu cleared a shot from Kim off the line following the resulting corner.

In a move which nearly mirrored Ghana's third, Son was unable to control a low cross through the box but the ball found a way through to Kim once more, but his effort sailed over the top.

Cho was on the hunt for a hat-trick and nearly found it in stoppage time, aiming for Ati-Zigi's near post, only for the Ghana stopper to punch it wide.

South Korea threw the kitchen sink at Ghana to try and salvage a draw, but were ultimately unsuccessful and their hopes of reaching the last 16 hang in the balance.

1. South Korea (4-2-3-1)

GK: Kim Seung-gyu - 4/10 - Had little command of his area and set up his box appallingly in the lead up to Ghana's opener, with South Korea's line way too deep.

RB: Kim Moon-hwan - 6/10 - Provided support on the wing but couldn't deal with the Ayew brothers until the second half.

CB: Kim Min-jae - 4/10 - Started after picking up a knock against Uruguay but looked off the pace, losing his runners and making strange decisions in possession.

CB: Kim Young-gwon - 4/10 - Completely flummoxed by Ghana's aerial bombardment.

LB: Kim Jin-su - 8/10 - Powered up and down the left flank, having a bit more freedom when Son took more of a central role.

CM: Hwang In-beom - 6/10 - Enjoyed a real possession battle with Ghana's imposing midfield trio, breaking up play and dictating South Korea's attacks.

CM: Jung Woo-young - 5/10 - Worked ever so hard as always but was a bit rash.

RM: Kwon Chang-hoon - 5/10 - Tested Ghana early on but faded and was replaced by Lee.

AM: Jeong Woo-yeong - 4/10 - Started the game close to Cho before almost fading out of it.

LM: Son Heung-min - 6/10 - Ghana doubled and tripled up on him in the first half plenty, but were unable to pin him down when afforded a free role in the second. Completely swamped again in stoppage time, though.

CF: Cho Gue-sung - 9/10 - A proper centre forward's performance. Ghana had no idea how to deal with him once quality crosses started coming in.

SUB: Na Sang-ho (46' for Jeong) - 6/10

SUB: Lee Kang-in (57' for Kwon) - 8/10

SUB: Hwang Ui-Jo (79' for Jung) - 5/10

SUB: Kwon Kyung-won (90' for Kim) - N/A

Manager: Paulo Bento - 6/10 - Atoned for his poor first-half organisation with changes to bring South Korea back into the game. Sent off after the final whistle for his protests to Anthony Taylor.

2. Ghana (4-3-3)

GK: Lawrence Ati-Zigi - 5/10 - Flung himself across his goal often failing to keep the ball out.

RB: Tariq Lamptey - 4/10 - After a decent first half, the Brighton made lost all composure after the break.

CB: Daniel Amartey - 5/10 - Booked early on for an aggressive off-ball foul. Generally haphazard.

CB: Mohammed Salisu - 6/10 - Wasn't great defensively, but did score a goal, so, every cloud...

LB: Gideon Mensah - 6/10 - Like Lamptey let his standards slip a little after a great opening.

CM: Salis Abdul Samed - 7/10 - Stormed around midfield dutifully breaking up play.

CM: Thomas Partey - 6/10 - Broke up play and spread it in his own radius.

CM: Mohammed Kudus - 9/10 - The Ajax midfielder's stock continues to rise with another impressive goal-scoring display on a global stage.

RW: Jordan Ayew - 8/10 - His excellent delivery was a huge reason why Ghana secured the points.

CF: Inaki Williams - 5/10 - Failed to assert his authority or even control a ball, and yet that led to Kudus' second.

LW: Andre Ayew - 6/10 - Wasn't as useful as his brother but put in a decent shift at least.

SUB: Kamaldeen Sulemana (79' for A. Ayew) - 5/10

SUB: Denis Odoi (79' for Lamptey) - 5/10

SUB: Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (79' for J. Ayew) - 6/10

SUB: Alexander Dijku (83' for Kudus) - 5/10

SUB: Baba Rahman (88' for Mensah) - N/A

Manager: Otto Addo - 6/10 - Ghana were a menace whenever they attacked, but their defending needs improvement.

Player of the Match - Mohammed Kudus