Hearts beat Kotoko in Kumasi
Accra Hearts of Oak re-enacted their 'never say die' spirit to prove bookmakers wrong when they surprised Kumasi Asante Kotoko by a lone goal at the Baba Yara Stadium Sunday at a time their own fans had ruled them off.
The icebreaker was produced by enterprising Patrick Razak against the run of play in the 65th minute to lift the club from the last third of the league log.
The goal completely changed the pattern of play from a Hearts that were on back foot to a complete dominance side.
That 15 minute blaze which revolved around Razak doused a poor showing by Eastern region based referee, Timothy Obuobisa, whose inconsistency nearly marred the beauty of the game.
Both teams made a blistering start to the game with wingers Emmanuel Gyamfi and Patrict Razak of Kotoko and Hearts respectively being difficult to be contained.
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But Kotoko showed much more urgency in attack while Hearts relied on the long balls for Razak to use his speed to the team's advantage.
Despite the fast pace of the game, it appeared a more clumsy encounter at least in the first 20 minute where rather calming down to find their usual rhythms they were carried away by the fans to produce early goals.
Gyamfi should have fetched the opener for Kotoko in the 27th minute but after latching onto a through ball, fired off target to the chagrin of the vociferous packed fans.
However, Kotoko never relented in their fight as their two-pronged attacking force of Yakubu Mohammed and Burkinabe import Songne Yacouba kept pressing.
Just then Hearts Joseph Esson pulled a surprise shot missing the posts narrowly and a minute later on the 31st minute, he was brought down in the box but referee Timothy Obuobisa failed to award a penalty.
As if to appease the Hearts fans, the Eastern region based referee denied Kotoko a similar penalty in the 36th minute as he was booed by the fans.
The comedy of errors by the referee and his assistant, Baidu Ibrahim of Wa degenerated the game into some reckless tackles albeit intermittently.
By the 54th minute, the rasta-haired Burkina import had shook the stadium with a scintillating freekick which was parried by goalkeeper Benjamin Mensah off the cross bar and two minutes later Rasak's scissor kick was pushed into play by goalkeeper Felix Annan.
The excitement was back as Kotoko launched a nonstop attack pushing the Hearts defence to scoop two aerial goal-bound shots off the posts.
From there, the Hearts defence began to 'leak' badly as Inusah Musah struggled to keep pace with the game.
But against run of play Razak popped up to strike with a blistering shot within the 18 to beat goalkeeper Annan in the 65th minute.
And in what has characterised matches of the two team, superstition played a key role before the commencement of the game with some weird beliefs by Kotoko.
There was drama ahead of the big kick off as Kotoko insisted in using the exit point of the stadium onto pitch only to be impeded by a fire service van.
They argued they risked losing the match if they used the same entry point just as Hearts did. And indeed their worse fears were confirmed.
It took some intervention from officials to convince the players and the technical team to ignore the superstition before agreeing to use the entrance.