A horror back pass from key Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour resulted in substitute striker Vincenzo Iaquinta rounding the keeper and sliding his shot home to secure victory for Italy seven minutes from time.

Earlier, Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo put his side ahead before the half time break when he was given plenty of time and space at the top of the Ghanaian goal box, hitting a right-footed shot into the bottom corner of goal.

As Italy put players behind the ball to protect their lead in the second half, the Black Stars resorted to low percentage long range shooting with a long range effort on target by Michael Essien in the 54th minute was the closest the Black Stars came to scoring.

A 73rd minute claim for a penalty was waved off by Brazilian referee Carlos Simon as Daniele De Rossi pushed Asamoah Gyan to the ground inside the penalty box, with De Rossi already on a yellow card from the first half.

De Rossi and Gyan were again involved in another penalty shout seven minutes later, but this time the referee ruled correctly as the Ghanaian striker appeared to dive over the Italian’s outstretched legs.

Pirlo ecstatic after his opener

Other than Pirlo’s strike the first half saw plenty of wasted chances from both sides with a total of 18 shots, most of which went into the grandstands.

In the 27th minute Fiorentina striker Luca Toni almost opened the scoring, crashing a shot into the crossbar which bounced directly down and out of danger.

Ghana were exciting on the counterattack, breaking with speed and finesse through the likes of Chelsea's Essien and captain Stephen Appiah, but like the Italians their shooting was off target in the first stanza.

Italy play USA in Kaiserslautern in their second match of the tournament on 17th June, while Ghana have the daunting task of taking on the ultra impressive Czech Republic in Cologne earlier on the same day.