By Anwar U. Larry from the Accra Sports Stadium
Accra Hearts of Oak came from behind to beat Accra Great Olympics 2-1 at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Kwame Kizito scored the winner in the 56th minute after Patrick Razak had cancelled out Emmanuel Amartey’s opener in the first half.
The Phobians showed great character to come from a goal down and overturn the scores against their city rivals. Hearts had a host of other chances especially in the second half totally kill off the game with Thomas Abbey rattling the upright and Razak and Kizito shooting feebly when clean through. But the slim win margin was no less than Hearts deserved on the day as they bridged the gap with the top two teams with five games to go.
Head Coach Frank Nuttall made a single change to the side that drew 1-1 with Kotoko in the last game. Winful Cobbinah missed out due to illness with Paul Acquah taking his stead in the starting XI.
Olympics named on-loan Hearts midfielder Aminu Alhassan in their starting XI and the combative youngster had a point to prove.
The home team started the game quite brightly and should have taken the lead in the 3rd minute of the game after Benjamin Mensah and Vincent Atingah failed to communicate properly allowing Daniel Appiah to meet a cross in the box. Luckily for Hearts, the header looped just over the bar.
Razak riposted at the other end for Hearts, driving in-field and beating three defenders in the box only to shoot agonizingly wide three minutes later.
Samudeen Ibrahim took over the show, and started dictating play for Hearts with neat passes and exciting dribbling skills past his markers in the heart of the midfield action. Not to be outdone, on-loan midfield Aminu took a pop from range after breaking play in the Hearts half but his shot rose inches over the bar.
Olympics continued to press and they had a shot on target when Vincent Atingah attempted to head a ball out of the box only to find Benjamin Arthur on the edge of the box. The Oly midfielder took his chance on the volley but Benjamin Mensah had the ball under control. Right back Fatawu Mohammed pushed forward and beautifully controlled a cross in the box with his chest but he failed to test the keeper.
The hosts put down a warning sign in the 25th minute with Amartey taking a pop from 25-yards out. His strike did beat Ben Mensah but luckily for Hearts, it cannoned off the crossbar for Robin Gnagne to clear before Kwame Boateng could head the ball.
A minute later, Olympics took the lead through Amartey who arrived in the box to head an inviting cross home on the blind side of the Hearts defense. The goal gave the Oly fans a lot of joy as they started goading their Hearts counterparts. Buoyed by the goal, Olympics had the three next chances of the game sandwiched by a weak turn-and-shoot strike from Abbey. Daniel Appiah cleverly got the better of Gnagne on the edge of the box with the Ivorian defender clumsily stopping the Oly attacker but the referee was charitable and allowed play to continue.
Benjamin Arthur, who had scored in the first round against Hearts, tested Benjamin Mensah with a curler from the edge of the box.
Coach Nuttall summoned his charges in the 36th minute after a holdup in play. The Scot saw an instant reaction with his side leveling proceedings just two minutes after his touchline intervention. We do not know what was said but it was clear that what was said had worked.
Kizito cushioned a header for Razak just after the halfway line but Olympics centerbacks Badu Asiamah and Mohammed Issaka collided for the ball to fall kindly for Razak, who still had Ampofo Adom to beat. The speedster succeeded in outpacing his marker but he had to be calm and composed before drilling home past Abraham Odonkor to bring Hearts level in the 38th minute.
The duo nearly combined again with Kizito robbing Amin in midfield and releasing Razak on the attack but defender Issaka intercepted the ball on the edge of the box.
After the break, the Phobians started slowly but soon took over with Abbey controlling a cross into the box with his chest and firing on the volley with his weaker right foot straight into the Oly keeper. Hearts did not have to wait for long before taking the lead. A long ball on the left side found Razak, who scampered into the box before laying the ball on a plate for the on-rushing Kizito to stab home in the 56th minute.
Hearts fans started taunting their Oly counterparts by singing “Byeoooooo, Bye-ooooo, Oly, Bye-Bye-oooooo” after taking the lead.
A minute to the hour mark, the Phobians were denied by the finest of margins when Fatawu cut the ball back for Abbey in the box on a sweet, flowing Hearts attack, but the club’s leading scorer’s shot struck the upright for the hosts to clear.
Coach Nuttall’s side titillated the fans and went into exhibition mood to end the game with a 2-1 win ahead of the midweek clash with Aduana.
HEARTS XI vs OLYMPICS: Benjamin Mensah, Fatawu Mohammed, Richard Akrofi, Vincent Atingah, Robin Gnagne, Leonard Tawiah, Patrick Razak (84 Cosmos Dauda), Samudeen Ibrahim (90 Joshua Otoo), Kwame Kizito, Paul Acquah (63 Malik Akowuah), Thomas Abbey (c )
Unused substitutes: Evans Gbeti, Anthony Nimo, Robert Addo, Bright Lukman
GOALS: Patrick Razak (38), Kwame Kizito (56)
OLYMPICS XI vs HEARTS: Abraham Odonkor, Adom Ampofo (c ), Malik Tahiru, Mohammed Issaka, Isaac Asiamah, Emmanuel Amartey (67 Francis Attuquaye), Benjamin Arthur, Alhassan Aminu, Emmanuel Asante (Maxwell Quaye), Daniel Appiah (81 Kaplaka Yidan), Kwame Boateng
Booked: Benjamin Arthur (65), Adom Ampofo (74)
Unused substitutes: David Agordome, Francis Dzokpatah, Ishmael Oko, Michael Sai
MATCH REFEREE: S.B Bortey