Asamoah Gyan scored twice as Ghana moved closer to a third successive World Cup appearance with an emphatic 6-1 win over Egypt in their African playoff first leg in Kumasi on Tuesday.
An own goal from Wael Gomaa, a powerful header from Abdul Majeed Waris, a Sulley Muntari penalty and a late effort from substitute Christian Atsu left Egypt facing more World Cup disappointment.
A contentious penalty allowed Mohamed Aboutrika to register a consolation goal just before half-time, but Egypt will need a major turnaround in the second leg on November 19 if they are to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1990.
What we have achieved with this scoreline is to have one foot in Brazil
“We still have 90 more minutes to determine whether we play in Brazil or not,” Ghana midfielder Andre Ayew said.
“What we have achieved with this scoreline is to have one foot in Brazil. We need to complete it in the next match when we play in Egypt.”
Gyan, who had his first effort on goal inside 11 seconds, opened the scoring after five minutes, shooting home from a narrow angle.
The lead was doubled in the 22nd minute when Michael Essien went on a mazy run, dribbling into the area before being challenged by Egypt captain Gomaa, who managed only to deflect the ball into his own net.
Essien, having played just once for Chelsea this season, produced a dominant midfield showing over the 90 minutes.
Egypt were awarded their penalty four minutes before half-time when Mohamed Salah was bundled down, though the decision from Moroccan referee Bouchaib Al Ahrach was generous.
Aboutrika converted but Ghana restored their two-goal advantage a minute before the break with Waris’s powerful header from Muntari’s free kick.
Muntari’s cross set up Gyan for the fourth in the 53rd minute before the AC Milan midfielder converted from the spot after Waris was brought down by Egypt’s substitute goalkeeper, Ahmed Al Shennawi.
Atsu’s shot from outside the penalty area capped a one-sided occasion.
Ghana reached the quarter-finals of the previous World Cup, in South Africa. Egypt have missed out on the past five finals despite winning an unmatched four African Nations Cup titles in the same period.