Ghana clinched a place in the last 16 of the World Cup against Brazil by ending the hopes of the United States with victory in Nuremberg.
Ghana players celebrate the first goal against the USA
Haminu Dramani gave Ghana, who lost their group opener to Italy, the lead after he robbed Claudio Reyna but Clint Dempsey's first-time shot made it 1-1.
Stephen Appiah restored Ghana's lead from a controversial penalty - awarded against USA defender Oguchi Onyewu.
Brian McBride sent a diving header against the post for the USA.
Referee Markus Merk stamped his early mark on the game, booking Eddie Lewis and Michael Essien inside the first six minutes.
With plenty at stake both sides were prepared for a physical battle and Lewis needed treatment for an eyebrow cut, which was caused by John Mensah's stray elbow.
Dramani then raised Ghana's hopes of a place in the knockout stages by firing them ahead.
Dramani's shuddering challenge caught Reyna in possession and the Ghana star made ground before curling his shot around keeper Kasey Keller's dive.
Essien's role in the battle for midfield supremacy was pivotal to Ghana's hopes and he won the ball to release the pacy Razak Pimpong, who pulled his shot wide.
The USA's ponderous build-up play allowed Ghana time to get bodies behind the ball but when they took a more direct route it proved to be effective, with McBride rising to flick the ball on for Landon Donovan, who sliced his shot wide.
The Americans suffered a blow when playmaker Reyna limped off but they made light of it when they levelled just before half-time.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey knows the USA are heading home
DaMarcus Beasley intercepted Derek Boateng's pass and curled a delicious cross into the path of Dempsey, who crashed home a first-time shot.
But referee Merk added one more twist to the first half, with a controversial penalty award.
He penalised Onyewu, who appeared to win a clean header as Pimpong collapsed dramatically, and then allowed Appiah to dispatch the spot-kick.
Donovan swung in a dangerous free-kick as the USA piled on the pressure at the start of the second half but Ghana showed their threat on the break and Keller had to claw away a powerful shot from Matthew Amoah.
For all their possession, the Americans showed little guile and wit to break down Ghana in a game that continued to be dominated by referee Merk's whistle.
The USA's luck was out as McBride dived full-length to head Lewis' cross against the post before Onyewu headed inches over the bar from a corner.
The American fans may well believe that they were victims of some debatable refereeing decisions and they were angry when Mensah was only shown a yellow card for a dreadful, cynical foul on substitute Bobby Convey.
Ghana: Kingston, Mensah, Pantsil, Shilla, Mohamed, Appiah, Essien, Dramani (Tachie-Mensah 80), Boateng (Otto Addo 45), Amoah (Eric Addo 59), Pimpong.
Subs Not Used: Adjei, Ahmed, Kuffour, Owu, Pappoe, Quaye, Sarpei.
Booked: Essien, Shilla, Mensah, Appiah.
Goals: Dramani 22, Appiah 45 pen.
USA: Keller, Onyewu, Conrad, Cherundolo (Johnson 60), Bocanegra, Dempsey, Reyna (Olsen 40), Lewis (Convey 74), Beasley, Donovan, McBride.
Subs Not Used: Albright, Berhalter, Ching, Hahnemann, Howard, O'Brien, Wolff.
Goals: Dempsey 43.
Referee: Markus Merk (Germany).
Fifa man of the match: Stephen Appiah
Ghana is the sixth nation from Africa to progress beyond the group stage. Since 1986, each World Cup has seen one African nation qualifying from the group stages for the knock out section. The most successful have been Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 who both reached the quarter-final stage.
It was the third World Cup match ever between an African country and a nation from the CONCACAF Zone. The first match between the two continents of Africa and North & Central America took place in 1978 when Tunisia beat Mexico 3-1, also the first ever African victory at the World Cup. The other match was played on 16 June when Angola and Mexico drew 0-0.
With an age of 23 years and 352 days, Ghana's starting line-up was the youngest of the 2006 World Cup. The three youngest starting line-ups have all been fielded by Ghana. Clint Dempsey's equaliser for the United States was the 100th goal of this tournament.
Trivia stats source: Infostrada Sports