Kumasi Asante Kotoko yesterday got a measure of revenge over archrivals, Accra Hearts of Oak, with a decisive 3-1 victory that has almost put paid to Hearts' title ambitions in the Onetouch Top 4 tournament.
After two consecutive losses to Hearts at the Robert Mensah stadium in Cape Coast, Kotoko needed a confidence-boosting win, and the manner in which they executed yesterday's victory was reflective of their 'Kum Apem A Apem Beba' character.
They clawed back from a first-half deficit to beat their opponents to their game and avenge a 1-3 league loss to Hearts six months ago at the same venue.
It sent the Kotoko supporters serenading at the Robert Mensah stadium in defiance of the downpour. The rainfall may have caused many fans to stay away from the game, but for the 'red' side of the stadium it was a sacrifice worth every minute spent in the rain, showers of blessing of a sort for the Porcupine Warriors.
The game was as exciting as it was tainted with some controversial refereeing decisions, with the Phobians pointing accusing fingers at Tarkwa-based Class One referee, T.K. Aggrey, for perceived injustice against them.
An infringement against Hearts in the second half enabled Kotoko's Ahmed Toure to score a classic goal that put the Fabulous lads on the path of victory in the 65th minute of the game.
Six months ago when Hearts demolished Kototo 3-1, Ivorian import Ahmed Toure left the field in tears after receiving a red card, but yesterday he was the architect of the winning goal through a well-taken 30-yard free kick that caught the Hearts goalie stranded in post.
With only 10 minutes of regulation time left, substitute Prince Amponsah put the game beyond the reach of the Phobians when he scored Kotoko's third goal after a brief loss of concentration by the Hearts defenders.
The game was barely three minutes old in the second half when the Phobians drew first blood through an own goal by Daniel Nii Adjei who kicked the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear a dangerous cross by Eric Gawu.
After missing two clear chances in the first half, Mohammed put Kotoko back into the picture in the 57th minute with a headed equaliser after outjumping his marker to connect Francis Akwafo's corner kick.
Kotoko had their tails up as they put Hearts under intense pressure, with their attacking machinery strengthened by the inclusion of substitute Ofosu 'Tico Tico' Amoah.
It became a ding-dong battle between the two sides until Toure turned the game around with a beautiful strike that incensed the Hearts players who immediately charged on the referee in protest at the infringement that caused the goal.
Barely five minutes after replacing the industrious Akwafo, a substitution that surprised many fans, Prince Amponsah pounced on a lose ball, saw the Hearts defenders out of position and fired a long range shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Laud Quartey in the 80th minute.
It was a game, set and match for the Fabulous lads who moved into pole position on the Top 4 log.
Story by Maurice Quansah