By Anwar U. Larry from the Dansoman Park
Accra Hearts of Oak produced one of their most outstanding performance of the calendar year to beat city rivals Liberty Professionals by 3-0 at the Dansoman Park on Sunday.
Man-on-fire Thomas Abbey scored two goals, one in each half, sandwiched by a sweet goal from super substitute Cosmos Dauda to hammer the nail in the Liberty coffin and gift Hearts fans across the world a brilliant Happy Mother's Day present.
An impeccable minute of silence was duly observed by the two teams in memory of the Accra Stadium Disaster that happened 16 years ago before kick-off. And the Liberty ground was filled to the rafters with Sports Minister Hon. Isaac Asiamah, Hon. Vincent Odotei-Sowah, George Afriyie (GFA VC), Ashford Tettey-Oku (PLB Chairman), Welbeck Abra-Appiah (Ex-PLB Chair) and a host of other distinguished dignitaries were at the venue to witness this exhilarating contest.
Coach Frank Nuttall named an unchanged side from the team that beat WAFA last Monday.
But there was good news for Hearts with the return of Malik Akowuah, who joined Cosmos Dauda, on the bench.
Hearts started the game quite brightly and forced Liberty back but they just could not hit target despite going close on a couple of occasions.
However, they should have been on target when Samuel Yeboah was slipped through on goal, but the veteran striker unselfishly cut the ball back across goal where a shot on target could have sufficed.
Unperturbed, coach Nuttall's side kept cranking the pressure and they were rewarded through an unlikely goal. Talismanic skipper Abbey was losing his feet when he met a loose aerial ball in the box and he did brilliantly well to shin the ball on target. Goalkeeper Fatao Dida Alhassan of Liberty had left his line by a few inches and the ball looped over his hapless arm to hit the back of the net in the 40th minute.
The Phobians could have added a goal before the break but they were pushed back after the restart.
A couple of half chances went by but it was the hosts that looked the more threatening. Samuel Sarfo's long drive from a free-kick was tipped over by Samuel Akurugu and Liberty upped the pressure through a series of corner kicks.
In the 77th minute, coach Nuttall introduced Cosmos Dauda for Kwame Kizito and less than sixty seconds later, the striker had a telling effect on the game.
A free-kick from the left side of the Hearts attack was kept in play by the industrious Sam Yeboah, before Razak and Fatawu combined to send in a cross. The Liberty goalkeeper was once again dragged out of goal by the trajectory of the free-kick and before he could make amends, Dauda was centrally placed to head the ball home into the empty net.
The fans had found their voices and many asked for the coach to close shop, but the Phobians still drove forward in search for more goals.
Akowuah was introduced in the 85th minute and his direct pass forward for Cobbinah nearly resulted in another goal for the visitors.
Combative midfielder Leonard Bless Leo Tawiah kept the pressure on to win the ball midway in the Liberty half before raking a shot on target, but goalkeeper Fatao pushed the ball back for Abbey to pounce. Thank you very much, the Hearts skipper seemed to say as he arced the ball into the net for the third goal of the afternoon in stoppage time.
What a game. It was beautiful Mother's Day present made by the Phobians for their teeming fans as Hearts cemented their spot at third place at the halfway stage of the league.
More to follow.......
Hearts XI vs Liberty: Samuel Akurugu, Fatawu Mohammed, Kassenu Ghandy, Vincent Atingah, Richard Akrofi, Leonard Tawiah, Patrick Razak, Winful Cobbinah, Sam Yeboah (86 Malik Akowuah), Kwame Kizito (77 Cosmos Dauda), Thomas Abbey (c).
Unused substitutes: Benjamin Mensah, Robert Addo, Samudeen Ibrahim, Paul Acquah, Bright Lukman
Booked: Thomas Abbey (72)
GOALS: Thomas Abbey (40, 92), Cosmos Dauda (78)
Liberty XI vs Hearts: Fatao Dida Alhassan, Prosper Avor, William Denky, Mubarak Yusif, Samuel Sarfo, Gerald Arkson, Emmanuel SArpong (64 Ben Arthur), Fredereick Ansah, Baba Zakari (79 Michael Ampadu), Papa Arko, SAmuel Anna.
Unused substitutes: Mark Acquah, Brite Andoh, Kouassi Jean, George Ansong, Eric Andoh.
Booked: Frederick Ansah (62), Wiliam Denkyi (67)
MATCH-REFEREE: URIAH GLAH
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Patrick Razak