[ 2017-03-20 ]
Atinga settles day for Hearts
An 84th minute penalty expertly converted by
defender Vincent Atinga enabled Accra Hearts of
Oak to beat Kumasi Asante Kotoko in their
excitingly crunch Premier League tie at the Accra
Yesterday’s nerve-jangling dramatic win – the
third by Hearts in the eight-old season, also
halted Kotoko’s eight-year stranglehold on them in
Accra – to spark a rambling celebration that would
certainly dive deep into the night.
But whilst Hearts fans cart-wheeled in celebration
of a hard-fought win, their rival contingent
launched a series of missiles onto the pitch in an
apparent protest to a penalty they may have
perceived as unreasonable.
It was a disconcerting sight to behold, especially
when similar scenes in a match between them
culminated in the blood-clotting May 9, 2001
disaster, where more than 120 fans were crushed to
death in a stampede.
The disputed spot-kick yesterday was the result of
shot fired by Hearts Sam Yeboah that seemed to
have crashed off the arm of Awudu Nafia. Without
hesitation, Referee Samuel Sukker signaled for a
penalty that met a fierce protest from Kotoko.
But the referee stuck to his gun.
Ahead of the afternoon, supporters of the two
Gullivers of Ghana football had taunted each other
with each claiming to wield the bragging rights in
their 104th meeting.
Generally, Kotoko were the better team –
especially in the opening half where Michael
Akuffo’s delicate free-kick just sailed wide.
Indeed, in the periods when they were not
dominant, they had mighty men at the rear to come
to their rescue.
Hearts’ Scottish trainer Frank Nutall may have
been surprised by his opponents’ levels of energy
in the first stanza of misplaced passes here and
there by the two teams. With the teams scoreless
after 45 minutes, Nutall introduced Patrick Razak
for Daniel Kodie and his first involvement
resulted in Ivorian import Alexandre Kouassi
thumping the side net.
Kotoko Croatian trainer, Zdravko Lugarusic, also
brought on the skilful Baba Mahama for Frank Sarfo
in the 68th minute, but it was Hearts who seemed
to have benefited for the tactical switch as they
pressed the Porcupine Warriors for the opener.
With Malik Akuwuah’s speedy prompting in midfield
evergreen, the home team continued to control the
game until the contentious handball.
After a brief protest, Atinga – who was adjudged
man-of-the-match, crashed home past goalkeeper
Felix Annan. But Kotoko would stage a stormy
finish that met a resolute Hearts contingent who
clung on ferociously to their lead.
Nutall, tasked with the responsibility of
restructuring the club into a formidable and
winsome side in the coming years, would be happy
with the victory, knowing that he broke the
‘stygian silence’ that has haunted Hearts for
Source - The Ghanaina Times
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