A comical own-goal by Hearts of Oak goalkeeper Soulama Abdoulaye handed Asante Kotoko a sweet victory over their arch rivals in Accra.
In a match whose build up was centred around the attacking threats of the two Dauda’s in both camps; Cosmos and Mohammed, it was rather the astonishing howler of Soulama which settled the game.
The experienced Burkinabe goalkeeper miskicked into his own net after failing to control a harmless back pass from defender Richard Akrofi just before half time.
It was an unexpected climax in a fairly balanced first.
After the customary pre-match antics, the match kicked off with Kotoko in firm control in the early stages, but it was Hearts who nearly grabbed the lead in the 10th minute.
A powerful Samuel Yeboah header beat goalkeeper Ernest Sowah but it hit the crossbar.
Hearts were rocked by an injury to Owusu Bempah early on and he was replaced by Kennedy Appiah.
Hearts went close again with Cosmos Dauda firing a dangerous low drive, which an alert goalkeeper Ernest Sowah parried away.
Kotoko suffered a major setback when Edwin Tuffuor Frimpong was shown a red card following a reckless challenge on Isaac Mensah midway in the second half.
There was no protest whatsoever from the Kotoko players, which underlined the correctness of referee Awal Mohammed, and a crestfallen Tuffuor walked off to the dressing room aided by Godwin Ablordey.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Kotoko remained composed and pushed for the opener.
Cosmos Dauda nearly opened the scoring in the 38th minute. In a solo effort on the left wing where he turned in his marker, Cosmos fired dangerously but Ahmed Adams’ timely clearance saved the Porcupine Warriors.
The first half appeared to be destined for a scoreless draw, but a drama which would be the moment of the match soon followed.
Defender Richard Akrofi sent in weak back pass to his goalkeeper, Soulama. With only an advancing Dauda Mohammed in his sight, Soulama miskicked into his own net, to the amazement and disappointment of the Hearts fans.
Soulama was in tears and the Hearts fans had been subdued by the the vociferous reds.
Hearts of Oak returned from the break with an increased tempo, surging forward on a number of occasions for the equaliser.
Just when the Phobians thought they were on the ascendancy, Soulama’s afternoon went from bad to worse.
The former Kotoko goalkeeper’s misery was compounded after he was shown the red card for bringing down Kotoko’s dangerman Dauda Mohammed just outside the box.
It was a dramatic twist to the game and Hearts coack Kenichi was forced to bring out striker Samuel Yeboah for goalkeepr young goalkeeper Akulugu.
The red card spurred on Kotoko into more raids, and each of their daring attacks were cheered on loudly by their ecstatic fans.
As the clock ticked towards the end, Kotoko became more compact and resolute in defence as Hearts probed for the equaliser.
The Porcupine Warriors stood firm to once again deny Hearts victory over them in Accra in recent years.
Hearts of Oak’s defeat leaves them still second on the table behind Wa All Stars, who lost at Medeama on Sunday.