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Jun, 27, 2013

Ghana knocks U.S. out of World Cup

ISTANBUL -- The U.S. was knocked out of the Under-20 World Cup in the first round, finishing last in Group A with a 4-1 loss to Ghana on Thursday night at Kayseri.

The American U20s were outscored 9-3 in the tournament, opening with a 4-1 loss to Spain and then coming from behind to tie France 1-1. They were outshot 25-10 by Ghana.

The U.S. U20s have not advanced past the group stage since the 2007 team with Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu. The Americans were knocked out in the opening round in 2009 and failed to qualify in 2011, leading the U.S. Soccer Federation to replace coach Thomas Rongen with former national team star Tab Ramos.

The American U17s failed to qualify for this year's World Cup and their U23s didn't reach last year's London Olympics.

At the senior level, Ghana also eliminated the U.S. in the opening round of the 2006 World Cup and in the second round of the 2010 tournament.

With the U.S. needing a win to advance, Frank Acheampong put the Black Stars ahead in the 38th minute when the ball bounced to him following a goalmouth scramble, and Ebenezer Assifuah doubled the lead in the 58th after a turnover in midfield by Danny Garcia.

Shane O'Neill scored for the U.S. with an open header from 8 yards in the 69th after Luis Gil played a short corner to Jose Villarreal. He passed to Oscar Sorto, who crossed.

Assifuah made it 3-1 in the 78th off Acheampong's corner kick, and substitute Kennedy Ashia got the final goal in the 83rd on a bouncing shot that went through the legs of goalkeeper Cody Cropper.

Spain (3-0) beat France (1-1-1) by 2-1 on goals by Paco Alcacer and Jese, and both advanced from Group A. Ghana (1-2) has four points and will have to wait for the results from other groups this week to find out whether it will be in the final 16.

Portugal and Nigeria won their final Group B matches to reach the last 16 of the Under-20 World Cup on Thursday, while third-place South Korea still has a chance of advancing.

Portugal striker Bruma scored his fourth and fifth goals of the event to help the two-time champions beat Cuba 5-0 and top the group, while Nigeria defeated South Korea 1-0 after an early goal by Olarenwaju Kayode and overtook the Asians for second place.

Ricardo, Aladje and To Ze also found the net for Portugal, while Bruma almost added a sixth when his thundering 20-meter effort hit the top of the crossbar.

It was Portugal's biggest ever win in the competition, improving on 3-0 defeats of Argentina in 1991 and the Netherlands four years later.

Portugal won the title in 1989 and '91 and finished runner-up to Brazil two years ago. Cuba, which lost all three games and became the first team to be eliminated, was making its first appearance in the tournament.

Nigeria secured its victory after Kayode was left unmarked by the South Korean defense and headed home a free kick by captain Abdul Ajagun in the ninth minute.

South Korea, which held Portugal to a 2-2 draw Monday, dominated play for large parts of the second half but lacked creativity in attack.

The best four teams to finish third in the six groups will advance to the knockout stage, along with all the group winners and runners-up.

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