By Anwar U. Larry from the Cape Coast Sports Stadium
Accra Hearts of Oak progressed to the last four of the 2018 GHALCA G8 tournament after producing a thrilling comeback win over Ebusua Dwarfs on Sunday.
Super substitute Richard Zuma grabbed a brace to put turn the game on its head for Hearts and ensure qualification into the next round of the off-season tournament.
Dwarfs had twice taken the lead, netting the opener through Stephen Bentil’s powerful header only for it to be cancelled by Christopher Bonney’s calm finish from the spot in the first half.
Joseph Esso put Dwarfs in the driving seat from another spot kick in the 63rd minute but two minutes later, Zuma struck for Hearts.
The substitute subsequently helped Hearts to complete the comeback with an exquisite finish following a breathless counter attack initiated by the combative Daniel Kordie.
The spirited win means Hearts will meet Kotoko in the semi-finals of the offseason competition in midweek.
Head Coach Frank Nuttall welcomed back Samudeen Ibrahim into his starting XI following his absence in midweek and handed goalkeeper Theophilus Jackson and Francis Morton their debuts.
The Phobians started the game quite brightly but they were hit with a sucker punch when Bentil rose highest to nod home Isaac Donkor’s swerving cross from a corner kick in the 28th minute.
Within 180 seconds later, Hearts were leveled through Bonney, who calmly slotted home after Kordie was shoved in the box.
Hearts finished strongly in the first half as if they were sparked by Dwarfs’ opener. But they were second best in the opening quarter of the second period. Jackson denied them the chance to restore their lead, narrowing his angles to force Moro Adams to find the side-net.
Dwarfs forced Hearts into an error with defender Richard Akrofi pulling Esso down to the turf after Robert Addo ceded possession. The Dwarfs No.10 angled his effort past Jackson to regain the lead.
Two minutes later, Zuma, who had replaced Alex Kouame in the 56th minute, rounded the Dwarfs keeper after latching on Kordie’s cute pass with a touch before rifling the ball home from outside the box.
It was to get better for Hearts and Zuma a few minutes later. Kordie had turned over possession and released substitute Nasiri Zakari but although the striker hesitated, the midfielder busted his lungs to reach the ball and re-send Zakari on the run. The move drew the Dwarfs last man out of position and with a sweet lay off, Zuma blasted home with the outside of his foot.
Instant impact by the substitute and man-of-the-match winner Zuma to help Hearts progress to the last four.
More to follow....
More to follow....