World Cup Soccer

Uruguay beats Ghana in PKs to reach semifinals

Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty kick on the last play of extra time for Ghana, then Uruguay goalie Fernando Muslera made two saves in the shootout as the South Americans advanced to the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup on penalties, 4-2, after a 1-1 draw Friday at Soccer City.

Gyan converted two penalty kicks earlier in the tournament for Ghana, but after Uruguay's Luis Suarez handled the ball on his own goal line seconds before the final whistle in extra time, he smashed his penalty kick off the crossbar.

Uruguay converted its first three shootout attempts and, after Muslera saved penalties from Ghana's John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah, Sebastian Abreu chipped in the winning spot kick.

"It's not just about courage to take a penalty like that," Abreu said. "It's a way of scoring a penalty. It won't count as two goals if you take it conventionally. There are different ways to score from the spot and this is this one I like. We can't say we had winners' luck because that would imply that we are playing down the work we have done since 2006. This is a team that has gone through a lot and that has been the key to a result in the World Cup."

Uruguay will play the Netherlands in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Suarez and Diego Forlan created a few opportunities as Uruguay controlled the opening 30 minutes, but Ghana weathered the storm and was a new team over the remainder of the first half.

Isaac Vorsah turned a header just inches wide of the left post in the 30th minute to spark the African side, and Gyan smashed a half-volley just inches wide of the right post one minute later.

Sulley Muntari then turned an innocent shot into the opening goal late in the first half when he caught Muslera wrong-footed and found the right side from about 40 yards.

Uruguay still looked stunned early after halftime but Forlan pulled his side level in the 55th off a free kick that dipped over a three-man wall and Kingson, and just under the crossbar.

Both sides created a few half-chances over the final 35 minutes but extra time seemed inevitable with both hesitant to push too many players forward.

Gyan, who scored early in extra time against the United States in the round of 16, came close to adding his second straight extra-time winner in the 98th, but Andres Scotti deflected his close-range shot just as it left his boot.

Both sides had a few more decent threats in the two extra sessions, but it was not until the final seconds that Ghana created a flurry of chances that led to the penalty kick.

Ghana had a few chances on the scramble, with Stephen Appiah having a chance cleanly cleared by Suarez before Adiyiah's rebound was swatted off the line by the Uruguay striker.

As Suarez walked off the pitch in tears, Gyan drilled the bar to send the game to the shootout. Ironically, Gyan hammered home his shootout penalty kick, but Muslera was the star of the session.

Forlan, Mauricio Victorino and Scotti converted Uruguay's first three attempts and, although Maxi Pereira missed the fourth shot, Muslera made two saves at his left post to end Ghana's run in South Africa.

Uruguay advanced to the final four for the first time since 1970. Ghana failed to become the first African nation to reach the semifinals.

"All I can say is this is football," Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac said. "It was a very difficult game for us because in the previous game [against USA] we also played for 120 minutes and in the end we had the historic opportunity to reach the semi-final and we had the penalty. We have to be proud of what we have achieved. This is sport and justice. Today Uruguay were the lucky ones."

07/02 20:36:17 ET

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