Mohammed Salisu scored a first competitive international goal on the biggest stage as Ghana came out on top in a five-goal thriller against South Korea in Group H at the FIFA World Cup.
The win keeps the Black Stars’ hopes of qualification alive, lifting them into second in the group behind Portugal who face Uruguay on Monday night, with Salisu and his teammates facing the South Americans on Friday with their fate now in their own hands.
At the Education City Stadium in Qatar, Otto Addo’s side gave South Korea a masterclass in clinical finishing in the first half.
After absorbing 20 minutes of pressure, Salisu took centre stage midway through the half when he was perfectly positioned to prod home Jordan Ayew’s wide delivery that had pin-balled around the box.
With the Saints defender only making his international debut in September, his fairy-tale goal was followed up 10 minutes later by Mohammed Kudus, who headed home Ayew’s cross to give Ghana a convincing lead that they took into the break.
Knowing a response was likely to come, preventing a Korean comeback proved to be easier in theory than in practice.
With the hour-mark looming, the two-goal deficit was halved when Lee Kang-in’s teasing ball into the box saw Cho Gue-sung sneak in ahead of Salisu to convert from close range.
Now backed by momentum, Paulo Bento’s side stunned Ghana with a second goal in three minutes. Cho the scorer once again, this time team leaping above John Mensah to head in from only two yards out.
At this stage, a South Korean winner seemed most likely, but the Black Stars rallied and hit back on 68 minutes.
Iñaki Williams’s cross from the left found it’s way to Kudus at the back post, with the Ajax winger sending a superb first-time strike back where it came from and into the far corner.
The latest twist in a game that had it all, South Korea went in search of a second equaliser, throwing everything at their African opponents, with Salisu notably clearing Kim Jin-su's strike off the line late on.
Needing to navigate 10 minutes of stoppage time, Addo’s side stood firm to claim all three points in one of the games of the tournament so far, one in which Saints’ defender starred.