DOHA Qatar (AFP) — Mohammed Kudus scored twice as Ghana beat South Korea 3-2 in a pulsating encounter on Monday to keep their World Cup hopes alive and leave Paulo Bento's side facing an early exit.
Mohammed Salisu opened the scoring against the run of play midway through the first half at Education City Stadium and Ajax midfielder Kudus doubled the Black Stars' lead.
But the Asian side, who looked toothless in the first half, roared back after the break, pulling level through a quick-fire double from forward Cho Gue-sung either side of the hour mark.
Ghana looked shell-shocked as the Korean fans celebrated wildly, but they were back in front in the 68th minute when Kudus finished calmly at the back post after his teammate Inaki Williams failed to connect with a cross from the left.
The result takes Ghana second in Group H on three points. Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will have six points and secure qualification for the last 16 if they beat Uruguay in the later kick-off in Qatar.
South Korea have just one point, gained in their opening 0-0 draw against Uruguay.
The Asian side, captained by Son Heung-min, were quicker to settle, forcing a succession of corners, but were unable to fashion a shot on target in the entire first half.
Son looked uncomfortable in the black face mask he is wearing after having surgery for a facial injury he suffered while playing for Tottenham, constantly readjusting it.
Ghana, who lost their opener 3-2 to Portugal, struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
But the match totally changed complexion in the 24th minute when the impressive Jordan Ayew, playing down the left for Ghana, swung in a free kick.
South Korea failed to clear and Southampton centre back Salisu finished with his left foot, sparking wild scenes of celebration among the Ghana fans decked out in red, yellow and green.
The goal revitalised the African nation who reached the quarter-finals in 2010, with South Korea struggling to deal with their physicality and direct approach.
Now playing with flair and confidence Ghana poured forward and doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Kudus powered a header home after a pinpoint Jordan Ayew cross from the left.
Captain Andre Ayew — the brother of Jordan — called his men into a team huddle on the pitch and the players got soaked by the sprinklers after the half-time whistle.
The Koreans at last found the net in the 58th minute when Cho headed home a cross from substitute Lee Kang-in, who had just been brought on by Bento.
And they were level just three minutes later when Cho headed home Kim Jin-su's ball from the left, sparking scenes of delirium among the Korean fans.
Ghana were rocking but they dug deep and restored their lead midway through the second half through the impressive Kudus.
South Korea came back again. Goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi was forced into a scrambling save to push away a free kick while Salisu cleared off the line.