Accra Hearts of Oak took a big step closer to a first league title in eleven years after they overpowered rivals Asante Kotoko in a crucial Ghana Premier League match on Sunday in Accra.
With both teams heading into the game level on points, it was the Phobians who came up with a clutch performance to steal the win, thanks to second half goal from Daniel Afriyie Barnieh.
In a tense opening 20 minutes, Accra Hearts of Oak was the home side who looked the more threatening.
Afriyie Barnieh went close after 15 minutes when his goal-bound effort was blocked brilliantly by Kotoko defender, Abdul Ganiu.
Kotoko slowly began to grow into the game and went close when Patrick Asmah’s free-kick was palmed out by Hearts shot-stopper Richard Attah.
The Phobians thought they had taken the lead, when captain, Fatawu Mohammed, made a darting run down the right flank, but his shot struck the left-hand post, much to the relief of Kotoko goalkeeper Kwame Baah.
Kotoko nearly grabbed the lead on the stroke of half-time but had to watch helplessly as Robert Addo Sowah’s mistimed clearance rolled agonizing past the face of the goal.
Hearts began the second half the brighter of the two and almost took the lead through Salifu Ibrahim, but his close-range effort was saved by Kwame Baah. Samuel Boadu’s side however continued to boss possession in a search for the opening goal.
Superb intricate passes from Hearts kept the home fans entertained, but the goal was still elusive.
However, that changed on the 66th-minute mark, with Afriyie Barnieh connecting an Ansah Botwe shot in exquisite style to give Hearts a much-deserved lead.
Asante Kotoko nearly grabbed the equalizer against the run of play when Augustine Okrah stole in behind Fatawu Mohammed, but his eventual shot was saved by Richard Attah.
Samuel Boadu made a couple of substitutions late on to sure up his defence in a bid to hold on to his side’s lead, bringing on Caleb Amankwah and William Dankyi.
The win takes Hearts three points clear at the top with just three games remaining.