Hearts Beat Etoile 1-0
A74 36th minute magical display by nimble-footed Bernard Don Bortey and a clinical finish by Reuben Senyo gave Accra Hearts of Oak a slender 1-0 win over Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia in their CAF Champion league first leg encounter played at the Obuasi Len Clay Stadium on Saturday.
Don Bortey, who was heavily policed by the uncompromising Etoile defenders,took his markers by storm in the 36th minute and disposed of three of them in a solo effort before entering the vital area to deliver a power-laden shot which goalkeeper Austine Ejile found too hot to handle.
The stout goalkeeper punched the ball into the path of onrushing Senyo, who made no mistake by planting it in the far corner of the net for the opening and only goal of the match.
Prior to that, Hearts had struggled to penetrate the packed defence of Etoile, who had resorted to the use of offside traps and close markings to frustrate the Ghanaian attackers.
The narrow win by Hearts has given them an arduous task of holding their opponents in Tunisiain in two weeks to be able to go past the Tunisians for the first time and enter the lucrative zone of the CAF champions league.
But for lack of imagination by the Hearts attackers, especially in the second half when they managed to carry the game to their opponents, Hearts would have won by a bigger margin.
The match lived up to expectation as a clash of titans as both sides made series of incursions into each other's territory.
The Tunisians, who mostly operated from the wings, made use of Jedidi Muhammed and Gilson Mannuel Silna. The two wingers combined effectively with Opara Emeka and Chikgoni Yassine who gave the Hearts defenders of Amankwah Mireku, Stanley Afedzi Charles Vardis and Dan Quaye a tough task of working overtime to contain them.
In the 14th minute, the Tunisians came close to scoring, but Mannuel Silna, who was gifted with the opportunity, messed it up with a feeble shot.
In the 17th minute, Silna again came close to snatching the leader with a beautiful volley but goalkeeper Laud Quartey stretched full length to parry the ball to corner.
Five minutes later, Dan Quaye nearly gifted the Tunisians with a goal when he failed to clear a ball to safety, but Jedidi Muhammed, who entered the box, surprisingly shot wide to the relief of the Hearts fans, who had their hearts in their mouths.
Reuben Senyo set Hearts at ease when he cleverly connected Don Bortey's rebound in the 36th minute to register the first goal.
After the break, Hearts carried the game to their opponents, making many inroads into their vital area, and creating many anxious moments for the Tunisians.
In the 57th minute for example, Don Bortey managed to beat an offside trap and entered the box, but the Etoile goalkeeper bravely rushed forward to deny him the opportunity of scoring a personal goal when he stretched to parry the shot to safety.
In the 65th and 77th minutes, Hearts came close to increasing the tally, but Moses Andoh and Don Bortey respectively blasted the chances away, and not even a last minute attempt by Hearts to increase the tally could yield any positive results until referee Dormans Jerome Kelvyn of South Africa brought hostilities to an end.