Ghana Premier League: Hearts of Oak 2-3 Asante Kotoko

Asante Kotoko held on to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory against Hearts of Oak in a captivating Super Clash on Sunday in the Ghana Premier League, gaining the first bragging rights of the season in Kumasi.

They orchestrated a comeback at the Baba Yara Stadium, delivering an engaging match that left the fans on the edge of their seats. The Kotoko faithful departed the stadium in jubilation as their team clinched three crucial points.

Due to Christmas activities taking precedence, the Accra Sports Stadium was unavailable to host the game. Consequently, Hearts of Oak, the home team, chose to play the match at Kotoko's home ground. In hindsight, this decision appeared to have backfired, given the outcome of the match.

Two instances of confusion marred the prelude to the game. Initially, Hearts of Oak fans obstructed the entrance gate, insisting that, despite the game being played in Kumasi, they were the home team and deserved to enter first. Security intervened to maintain order, but the Hearts of Oak bus managed to enter first. Subsequently, during the warm-up, some Hearts of Oak players made their way into the Kotoko section, causing momentary chaos, but calm was eventually restored.

The match kicked off with an exhilarating start, as Linda Mtange, left unmarked inside the box, missed a golden opportunity to score within the first 30 seconds. This set the stage for a series of chances. The deadlock was broken in the 37th minute when Ibrahim Salifu delivered a brilliant cross from a free kick, met by Mtange's exceptional header.

Kotoko ensured the first half ended on level terms when Isaac Oppong, positioned inside the box, executed a superb low effort in the 44th minute, beating Richmond Ayi.

Returning from the break with increased urgency, Kotoko netted their second in the 55th minute. Despite an offside controversy revealed by the replay, Steven Mukwala capitalised on Ayi's failure to deal convincingly with a shot on target, securing the rebound.

Mukwala's second goal was controversy-free, as he intercepted a back pass, outpacing Ayi, and calmly slotted home for the third. Martin Karikari managed a late second goal for Hearts of Oak, but it wasn't enough as Kotoko held on for a significant victory.

This win extended Kotoko's impressive run to five consecutive victories, positioning them as strong contenders for the league title, trailing the top spot by four points.

On the flip side, Hearts of Oak suffered their second consecutive defeat, trailing Kotoko by six points. Interim coach Rahim Bashiru might be feeling the pressure, and the board could be contemplating the appointment of a substantive coach to reverse the club's fortunes.