Naby Keita’s injury-time penalty earned Asante Kotoko a dramatic 2-1 win over Hearts of Oak in the first Super Clash of the 2019/20 Ghana Premier League season in Accra on Sunday.
The fierce encounter looked to be on course to end in a stalemate after Joseph Esso’s second-half header equalised Justice Blay’s 11th-minute header.
And then with the clock ticking into stoppage time, Kotoko were awarded a penalty which Guinean striker scored comfortably.
In front of sold out Accra Sports Stadium, it was Hearts of Oak who came out of the tunnel looking like they wanted it more. The Phobians won all their duels, created more chances which Emmanuel Nettey and Joseph Esso failed to take.
In a nutshell, Hearts of Oak looked like they would get the first goal of the game, but football has never followed logic and that was certainly the case at the Accra Sports Stadium.
In the eleventh minute, Kotoko got a free-kick deep inside the half of Hearts, Augustine Okrah delivered an in-swinger which found Justice Blay who outjumped his man and powered his header past Richard Atta to give the Reds the lead.
The stadium was stunned, with various of sections in the stadium were left in dismay reminiscing how an old ghost was possibly scaring them yet again.
For only matches played in Accra since 2006, Kotoko had won five, Hearts had won four and two of the games had been drawn prior to the showdown on Sunday.
In the midst of undulating silence, Justice Blay ran across the pitch in his newly dyed red hair as he celebrated with the bench.
Nii Odoom’s men weren’t fazed by conceding the first goal as they continued to dominate proceedings.
Hearts continued in the same fashion after the halftime break and were duly rewarded in the 67th minute when Joseph Esso found himself in the right place, at the right time to head Hearts level.
At that moment, Esso became the paranormal investigator as he was single-handedly keeping out the old ghosts.
As the game wore on, both teams looked like they were settling for the points to be shared. A testament to Maxwell Konadu’s assertions before the game when he said that Hearts were ready for Kotoko and vice versa.
It looked like for the first time in 11 matches, Hearts were going to pick up at least a point in Accra against Kotoko having won the game before.
However, Mathew Cudjoe, who was introduced in the second half took matters into his own hand as he created a chance for Emmanuel Gyamfi who failed to convert.
The 16-year-old once again showed his quality in the dying embers of the game, winning a penalty when his effort came off the hand Mohammed Alhassan.
Naby Keita who was very quiet throughout the game stepped up and nonchalantly sent his penalty down the middle as he sent a dagger through the hearts of Hearts fans.
The old ghost returned, the stadium stayed mute and this time till the end as referee Emmanuel Eshun brought the game to an end
It wasn’t to be as Kotoko continue to dominate matches against Hearts at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Maxwell Konadu remains the kryptonite to this Hearts side as he remains unbeaten against them as Kotoko coach.