Hearts of Oak claimed victory over arch-rivals Asante Kotoko after beating the Porcupine Warriors 1-0 at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Daniel Afriyie Barnieh scored the only goal of the game with a 65th minute finish.
Samuel Boadu was forced to make an early substitution when Emmanuel Nettey suffered a leg injury after tackling Emmanuel Gyamfi on the goal line. Frederick Ansah Botchway who played against Legon Cities in Nettey’s absence was brought on to take up midfield duties.
Kotoko escaped an early-minute fate when Abdul Ganiyu had to be at his best in defence to block a Daniel Afriyie Barnieh fierce drive from inside the box after Salifu Ibrahim delivered a decisive cross into the box.
The Porcupine Warriors gradually warmed themselves into the game with Fabio Gama, Emmanuel Gyamfi and Emmanuel Keyekeh coming into the mix for Mariano Barreto’s men. In the 21st minute Gyamfi delivered a tailored cross into the box but his delivery did not find any target man.
A member of the Hearts technical bench received the first booking of the match after Benjamin Afutu was adjudged to have fouled Fabio Gama around the center circle and referee Daniel Laryea’s decision to book him draw angry reactions from the Hearts technical bench with fitness coach W. O Tandoh punching his fist into the air.
The pendulum swung with the final 10 minutes of the first-half approaching as Hearts came into the game strongly. Fatawu Mohammed made a marauding run into the Kotoko following a moment of great build up from the midfield. The captain’s shot flew into the near post with goalkeeper Kwame Baah completely beaten and rooted to his spot. The rebound fell to Afutu with the midfielder firing just wide.
Emmanuel Keyekeh was booked for fouling Afriyie Barnieh on the 35th minute mark.
The entire second half was Hearts of Oak’s game as the Phobians employed pressure play with impressive high pressing led by Daniel Afriyie Barnieh. Ansah Botchway and Salifu Ibrahim all came into the game with some decent chances. A moment of good exchanges between Ovouka, Razak and Obeng Junior set up Afriyie Barnieh to bullet a fierce to the upright after beating Habib Mohammed in the area.
Hearts continued to press and caused more problems for Kotoko in the defensive lines.