Football may now be a game of high presses, transitions and channels but Ghana’s 3-2 win over South Korea at the World Cup on Monday showed that a well-delivered cross to a target man is still hard to beat as a means to score a goal.
Four of the five goals in a thrilling Group H match at Education City Stadium came from dangerous crosses from the left with Jordan Ayew leading the way to put Ghana 2-0 up and the Koreans responding in kind with two Cho Gue-sung headers.
The touch evaded the South Koreans after Mohammed Kudus had put Ghana ahead for the final time, however, and they repeatedly found space down the wings only for the final ball to clatter off the head of a Ghanaian defender.
That reprised the opening 25 minutes of the game when the Koreans dominated possession, swinging the ball left and right across the pitch and working their neat triangulations to get into threatening positions down the flanks.
Of the six corners and handful of crosses they had in that purple patch, however, only one got past the first defender and that was a drilled low ball hustled away by the Ghanaians.
Wingback Kim Jin-su, who normally acts as Son Heung-min’s foil on the left but was playing with pain-killing injections for a hamstring injury for the second successive match, was perhaps the worst offender.
The absence of the Hwang Hee-chan from the right side of the Korean attack because of his own hamstring problem also impacted the quality of delivery from that side of the pitch.
Ghana have a made a virtue of capitalising on their few chances in Qatar and presented with a free kick on left in the 24th minute, Ayew swung in a peach of delivery that Mohammed Salisu poked into the net in a goalmouth melee.
The 31-year-old’s delivery was even better 10 minutes later, a high arching cross that Kudus needed only the faintest touch on to guide past Kim Seung-gyu in the Korean goal.
Shown the way, the Koreans hit back at the start of the second half with Kim Jin-su finding his range to give Cho his first goal and substitute Lee Kang-in providing the ammunition for the big target man’s second.
The Koreans were left devastated at the end of the full-blooded contest with their hopes of progressing out of the group severely damaged, while a furious Paulo Bento was shown a red card after the final whistle.
That means the coach will not be on the bench against his native Portugal in South Korea’s final group game on Friday but his squad might expect a little bit of extra crossing practice over the next four days.