Tearful Ghana rue last-gasp penalty drama

JOHANNESBURG - Ghana defender John Pantsil choked back tears as he bemoaned a decision to award a last-minute penalty instead of a goal which would have seen the Africans qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup on Friday.

Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez handled the ball on the line in the dying seconds of the quarter-final, denying Ghana a goal while both teams were tied at 1-1.

Striker Gyan Asamoah blasted the ball against the bar and over, sending the match to a penalty shootout which Uruguay won 4-2.

"In the last minute we got a goal but the referee disallowed it," Pantsil told reporters, the emotion straining his voice.

"Instead of him giving the goal he whistled for a penalty. It was not a penalty, it was a goal because he (Suarez) was the last man in the goalline and he saved the ball with the hands."

CHEERING ASAMOAH

Pantsil said there would be no blame laid on striker Asamoah for the missed penalty.

"We have been talking to him about it. Obviously he is feeling very bad and it is not easy to forget it," Pantsil said.

"As a team mate, we have to keep him with us, talk to him about it so that he can forget it as soon as possible.

"It is penalty, anyone can miss it. It is part of football. It is not a mistake, it is not a mistake at all. He kicked it from his heart. We all wanted to win the game but, yeah, we will pick it from there."

Goalkeeper Richard Kingson said there would be no repeat of the backlash from fans in Ghana against Asamoah like that which occurred following a poor showing at the African Cup of Nations at home in 2008.

"No, there will be nothing like that," Kingson said. "I had a message from my wife. She said everybody is happy now. We did our best and everybody is cheering him."

Ghana's Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac congratulated Uruguay but made clear his feelings on the last-second drama.

"It was sporting injustice," he muttered at the end of his news conference.

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