Thomas Partey’s first-half effort proved the difference as Ghana registered a 1-0 away victory over Zimbabwe in 2022 World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The Arsenal man’s free-kick earned the Black Stars a valuable three points in the Group G matchday four fixture at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

The win has sent Ghana two points clear atop the table but the status could change when second-placed South Africa host Ethiopia in the other game of the matchday later on Tuesday.

Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac made two major changes to his starting XI, leaving captain Andre Ayew on the bench in favour of Real Mallorca man Idddrisu Baba in midfield.

Also, Sporting Club-linked Abdul Fatawu Issahaku lost his starting spot on the wide right, with Jordan Ayew re-deployed to the role, opening up space for Turkey-based Benjamin Tetteh to come into the starting team as the lead striker.

Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza was without Wigan Athletic defender Tendayi Darikwa and Olympique Lyon striker Tino Kadewere who both featured in the 3-1 loss to Ghana in the reverse fixture on Saturday.

However, the manager welcomed back talisman Khama Billiat into the squad after the attacker served a suspension in the previous game. Captain Knowledge Musona, who netted the Warriors’ consolation on Saturday, and Aston Villa midfielder Marvellous Nakamba were also in the thick of affairs.

The first scoring chance of the game came in the 11th minute when Kamaldeen Sulemana weaved his way from the left into the penalty box and fired a near-post shot that went just wide.

Zimbabwe then responded nine minutes later when Musona forced Ghana goalkeeper Jojo Wallocott into a save from a free-kick.

With both teams struggling for clear-cut chances, Mohammed Kudus attempted a shot from over 30 yards but his effort flew just over the bar.

Two minutes later, Ghana broke the deadlock through Partey, whose free-kick from outside the box proved too strong for goalkeeper Tawunurwa Talbert Shumba, who was left in a head-in-hands moment.

Just before the break, Tawunurwa almost embarrassed himself for the second time when he failed to collect a corner. A scramble ensued which saw Daniel Amartey fire at goal but the goalkeeper was relieved to see his man clear the ball off the goal-line.

After the break, Ghana almost made it 2-0 again when Kudus curled a shot against the crossbar after being set up by Partey, Tetteh having benefitted from poor Zimbabwe defending to begin the attack.

The hosts also had their own opportunities: Jordan Zemura, after beating his man to find space in the box, shot wide, a situation similar to an attempt by Musona moments later.

A constant thorn in the flex of Zimbabwe, Kudus fired another shot in the 67th minute but his effort was collected by the goalkeeper.

Substitute Daniel-Kofi Kyereh also pounced on a loose ball inside the box for a possible instant impact but he smashed wide, moments before Kudus drilled another low effort just off target.

There was hardly any clear scoring chance subsequently and after three minutes of injury time, the referee brought the game to an end.


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