Champion club Kumasi Asante Kotoko returned to the summit of the Glo Premier League standings yesterday after an emphatic victory over Arsenal at the Golden City Park toppled Berekum Chelsea who were crushed by Hearts of Oak in Accra.
Very rarely do age-old rivals Hearts and Kotoko do each other favours in the league title race. For once, Hearts delivered a perfect gift to their arch rivals when their 3-0 thumping of Chelsea helped Kotoko leapfrog the Berekum lads to the top of the standings as the competition heads into the final four matches.
It was exactly a week yesterday after the giants and the league’s most glamorous sides sold out a classic that ended in a 1-1 draw at the Accra Stadium. And despite the intervening mid-week’s varied fortunes for the traditional giants, the fate of facing Berekum’s two clubs was more than a coincidence.
The paths of Arsenal and Chelsea — unlike their original glamourous counterparts of London — lie far apart, separated by a gulf in class, with Arsenal battling against relegation and Chelsea pursuing a second league title in three years.
At Berekum, Arsenal’s bid for survival in the elite competition suffered a major blow when Michael Akuffo, Abdul Aziz and Kofi Nti Boakye struck to nail them to the 15th position in the 16-club league.
It was equally frustrating for Chelsea in the nation’s capital as a brace by Gilbert Fiamenyo and Mahatma Otoo’s 16th league goal gave Hearts just their second win over Chelsea in 10 clashes.
In a more straight route affair, Medeama beat relegation-bound RTU 3-0 at Tarkwa to revive their title aspirations as they moved into second position on the league log, while King Faisal pipped Ashantigold 1-0 at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
The weekend’s top fixture saw Hearts outclassing table-topping Chelsea and showing glimpses of their once dominant form, writes Kwame Larweh.
The Phobians have over the past few weeks shown some promising prospects reminiscent of their glorious past by thrashing Liberty Professionals 3-1, drawing 1-1 with traditional rivals, Asante Kotoko and pummelling RTU 4-0 last Wednesday before yesterday’s spectacular display which must sent their fans into frenzy.
They dominated play from start to finish with a man-of-the-match performance by Fiamenyo, particularly in the first half, accompanied by two brilliant goals.
Fiamenyo struck first in the 25th minute to give his side the opener when he headed home a beautiful cross from winger Ernest Owusu Bempah.
The marauding attacker then increased his tally to two in the 41st minute after fellow striker Otoo skillfully dribbled past a defender in the goal area and passed it on to Fiamenyo who slotted past Chelsagoalkeeper Michael Osei.
The striker could have scored a hat-trick from another chance, but his feeble shot was saved by goalkeeper Osei as Chelsea looked shocked by the fantastic display of the Phobians.
Back from recess, the visitors tried to take the game to the Phobians but defenders Tetteh Luggard, Robin Gnagne, Moro Abubakar and Nuru Sulley stood tall and frustrated the visitors.
Hearts regained control and were further boosted in the 57th minute when Chelsea’s Wilson Akakpo was shown the exit after a reckless tackle on winger Thomas Abbey for a second bookable offence.
However, striker Abdul Basit of Chelsea still looked hungry for goals as he hit the post of the Phobians twice, the first a powerful shot that hit the bar in the 67th minute, and the second in the 80th minute when he dribbled past goalkeeper Tetteh Luggard but saw his shot hit the post again with only the net at his mercy.
In the 84th minute, a goal-mouth scramble in the visitor’s area saw Mahatma Otoo’s cheeky tap drop in the net to increase Hearts tally to three without reply.