Ghana’s Black Stars kicked off the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign with a disappointing 2-2 draw with Benin.
The Stars were stunned early on as Benin scored first, their only goal of the game, in the second minute through Mickael Poté.
The Black Stars were also forced to play the last 35 minutes of the match with ten men after defender John Boye picked up two yellow cards and was sent off.
Goals from captain Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew gave Ghana a narrow lead at half-time but Poté stabbed home after the Black Stars’ defence failed to deal with a set-piece.
A defensive mixup allowed Poté to stroll through Ghana’s defence and slot past goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Ghana had been shaken and the jitters at the back almost let in Benin again but Lumor Agyenyenu stepped in to clear.
It was all Ghana from that point on in the first half and they found the equaliser after a period of sustained pressure.
Thomas Partey’s long ball in the 9th minute found Jordan Ayew in the box and eventually found its way to Andre Ayew, who held off his marker and fired past the Benin keeper.
The Stars were in complete control of the game at this point, passing the ball at will but clear cut chances were hard to come by with Benin defending deep.
Ghana were then forced into a change after winger Thomas Agyepong suffered a possible concussion, with Samuel Owusu replacing him.
The change did not affect the Stars’ rhythm however as they scored two minutes later, Jordan Ayew turning brilliantly onto Partey’s defence-splitting pass and firing past the keeper.
The Black Stars returned from the break in high spirits, looking to build on a decent first half but those plans were thrown into the air when John Boye, who had been yellow-carded in the first half was booked again for time wasting.
This forced coach Kwesi Appiah to withdraw substitute Samuel Owusu for Jonathan Mensah.
Benin, buoyed by their one-man advantage, pushed more men forward and were rewarded as Poté turned in a cross after Ghana failed to respond quickly to a short corner.
Kwesi Appiah’s final throw of the dice was to bring on Afriyie-Acquah for captain Andre Ayew with Asamoah Gyan remaining on the bench and the Black Stars faltering in their group opener.
The result leaves the Black Stars with a single point, two behind early group leaders Cameroon who beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0.