A heroic act from Liberty Professionals' Rabiu Mohammed not only ensured a 7-6 penalty victory over defending league champions, Hearts of Oak, but also won them the NIIT Invitational Challenge trophy in a drama-filled final yesterday.
Rabiu who was introduced in the second half injected pace into Liberty's game and saved a crucial penalty which eventually won the day for his side — the result of his replacing choice Goalie Patrick Antwi who received a red card during the penalty shoot-out.
Antwi's red card was Liberty's second as Richard Kissi was also sent off by Referee Reginald Lathbridge in the 87th minute for a verbal challenge.
It was Accra Hearts of Oak forward, Samuel Affum, who opened the scores 28 minutes into the first half with a connecting header to a Bernard Don Bortey cross.
Hearts goalie Laud Quartey stood between Liberty and an equaliser after saving a long range shot from Liberty's Yaw Antwi.
The Liberty lads, eager to strike even, pushed forward some more men but failed to score after a Kojo Asamoah bicycle kick was punched out by Goalkeeper Quartey.
Both sides added more speed and seriousness upfront but this went more to the advantage of Liberty Professionals. In the 51st minute, Yaw Antwi chipped a Sam Ayew pass past on-rushing goalkeeper Quartey, courtesy a Rabiu Mohammed set-up, to make the score 1-1.
The aftermath of this goal was characterised by many missed chances by both sides until the game ended.
Football fans were to see more drama during the penalty shoot-out after a Dan Quaye kick which was saved by goalkeeper Antwi was ordered to be re-taken.
Antwi was sent off after he challenged Referee Lathbridge, hence Rabiu Mohammed's introduction to replace him.
Penalties were missed by Lawrence Adjah Tetteh and Michael Donkor of Hearts and Liberty's Sam Ayew.
Liberty took home ¢100 million, Hearts of Oak received ¢75 million while third-placed Heart of Lions took home ¢25 million. On their way to the final, Liberty beat Lions 3-2 on penalties.
Story by Nathaniel Attoh