GPL: Goalkeepers steal show as Hearts of Oak-Asante Kotoko march ends goalless

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Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak played out an exciting 0-0 draw in the Ghana Premier League at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday.

The goalkeepers for the two teams, Richard Atta and Razak Abalora, stole the headlines, each saving a penalty in the game played behind closed doors  because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

It took only three minutes to see the first big chance of the game.

Fabio Gama’s pinpoint pass found Kwame Poku through on goal for Kotoko, but Nuru Sulley’s attempt to win the ball back failed spectacular, with his clumsy challenge bringing down Poku in the box and the penalty awarded.

Richard Atta saved from Poku, setting the tempo for an action packed first half.

Patrick Razak then hit the upright three minutes later, seeing his effort come off the upright, after after Yussif Mubarik’s mistake put him through on goal.

An impressive Razak  then forced two saves from Kotoko goalkeeper Razak Abalora; the first an instinctive off the line clearance before showing strong palms in punching a point blank effort.

Hearts of Oak were dominant in the first half, largely pinning Kotoko to their own half but a combination of good goalkeeping from Abalora and at times poor decision making from the Hearts of Oak attackers ensured the first half ended goalless.

Back from recess, Kotoko’s Naby Keita forced a strong save from Atta with an 20 yard strike, moments after Razak fired wide from a tight angle for the Phobians.

As both teams pushed for the winner, Gama, who had looked lively all game, found Emmanuel Gyamfi with a delightful return ball but Gyamfi’s feeble left footed effort was easily collected by the gallant Atta.

In the 72nd minute, Hearts of Oak won a penalty after substitute Isaac Mensah was brought down by Kotoko goalkeeper Abalora with a clumsy challenge inside the 6-yard box.

The former WAFA goalkeeper then redeemed himself, saving the spot-kick from Mensah, setting up a nervy last 15 minutes of the game.

With 5 minutes to the end, Kwame Opoku rattled the cross bar with a fabulous 25 yard strike, with Atta beaten.

Soon after, Gama showed great feet to dribble his way into the Hearts of Oak box, but he was wrestled off the ball as he agonizingly begged for a penalty that was waved away. The ball only went as far as Mudasiru, whose shot was blocked, then Opoku’s effort from the rebound was also blocked, before Latif Anabila finally shot wide.

The resolute defending from the Phobians was the last piece of action in an exciting game where the goalkeepers for the two teams stole the headlines as the spoils were shared.

The result means both teams remain level on points, with Hearts of Oak above their rivals on goal difference in 6th position.

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