By El-Amisty Nobo & Eric Yaw Donkoh
Three goals from Thomas Partey and a brace from Richmond Boakye Yiadom gave the Black Stars a window of hope to secure qualification slot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as the Black Stars thrashed the Red Devils of Congo 5-1 on Tuesday at Stade Municipal de Kintele in Brazzaville.
Coach Kwesi Appiah made five changes to his starting line-up that drew 1-1 in the first leg at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi last Friday.
Missing in action from Kwesi Appiah’s squad sheet was substantive captain – Asamoah Gyan, who sustained a thigh strain in the first game where the Black Stars were held by the Red Devils. His place was taken over by Richmond Boakye Yiadom who grabbed two goals on his return to the national team.
Andre and his brother Jordan Ayew who could not travel with the team to Congo also lost their positions to Thomas Agyapong and Afriyie Acquah respectively whiles Harrison Afful and Lumor Agbenyenu made the cut over Jeffrey Schlupp and Joseph Larweh Attamah.
The Diables Rouges [Red Devils] kicked on their attacking engine right from the blast of the referee’s whistle as they threaten the Black Stars goal area twice under five minutes into the game, but Ghana’s goalie – Richard Ofori who had a wonderful afternoon came to the rescue of the Black Stars as he pulled two timely saves to deny the Congolese from taking the lead.
The former Wa All Stars goalkeeper [Richard Ofori] passed two successive test in the early minutes to keep the Black Stars afloat. First, Richard Ofori had to save Thievy Bifouma’s strike with his legs after the Congolese attacker had ghosted through Jonathan Mensah and Emmanuel Amartey into the eighteen yard box.
Richard Ofori’s rescue mission continued as he saved César Gamzi’s strike after a great one-two passes in the goal area of the Black Stars.
The Black Stars came into the picture from the sixteenth minute when Christian Atsu and Thomas Agyapong started their marauding runs at the Congolese fullbacks whiles Ebenezer Ofori and Afriyie Acquah tried to feed Thomas Partey with the attacking balls.
Ghana broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute through Red Star Belgrade striker [Richmond Boakye Yiadom] who latched onto Partey’s missed kicked effort in the six-yard box to shoot the Black Stars in front.
Thomas Partey extended the lead for Ghana in the 27th minute as he scratched the back of the net with a left footed shot from a close angle. Newcastle United midfielder [Christian Atsu] went pass two defenders, cut the ball back to the unmarked Boakye Yiadom whose attempt was blocked but only for the ball to fall in front of Partey lurking in the box to fire home.
Richard Ofori had to pull double magnificent saves again late in the game to deny Thievy Bifouma and Dolan Bahamboula but Llloy Ayyet rose above Afriyie Acquah in the 44th minutes to unleash a powerful header beyond the reach of the Ghanaian goalie.
Thomas Partey  restored parity for the Black Stars just before the break. The Atletico Madrid midfielder’s second goal was a photocopy of the one he scored against the Red Devils at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium as Christian Atsu tweaked a pass onto his path to slot in from the right angle.
The Congolese piled pressure on the Black Stars in the second half, but a horrible pass in the defensive area of the Red Devils in the 69th minute found Thomas Partey who controlled the ball with three touches before hitting it hard straight into the roof of the net.
Richmond Boakye Yiadom  scored Ghana’s last goal in the 75th minute having been put through by Harrison Afful. Afriyie Acquah’s long pass from deep midfield picked the Columbus Crew right back [Harrison Afful] on the run, Afful wrecked the ball back for Boakye Yiadom to score his second on the day.
But just when Ghana were hoping for a draw in the second match between Egypt and Uganda at the 70,000 capacity Alexandria Stadium, Mohammed Salah proved the quality he’s made of as his lone goal gave the Pharaohs 1-0 win over the Cranes of Uganda to give the Egyptians the hope of securing the Russia 2018 World Cup ticket in Group E.
Ghana’s Starting Line-up:
Richard Ofori, Harrison Afful, Lumor Agbenyenu, Emmanuel Amartey, Jonathan Mensah, Afriyie Acquah, Christian Atsu, Ebenezer Ofori, Richmond Boakye Yiadom, Thomas Partey , Thomas Agyapong.
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