Hearts of Oak have progressed to the round of 32 of the MTN FA Cup on the back of a supreme performance against Liberty Professionals that saw them claim an emphatic 3-0 win at the Accra Sports Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Attacker Daniel Afriyie Barnie, who was blocked from travelling with the Ghana U23 squad to Japan for the international friendly next week, opened the scoring for the Phobians on 18 minutes following a sweet midfield delivery from Isaac Mensah. Mensah’s vision and artistry allowed him to locate the laser lane of Afriyie who had geared up to receive his through-pass. When the No. 21 delivered the ball into space Barnie was already waiting and he hooked the ball, applied a technical trapping, innately paused to read the on-rushing Daniel Amissah before unleashing a low drive that went into the right bottom corner.
But, before the opening arrived for the Phobians, it was Liberty who were presented with the surreal opportunity of the game. George Ansong – the skipper for the afternoon, went past Mohammed Alhassan and Raddy Ovouka and laid a good pass to Kingsford Frimpong – but the No. 48 opted for placement instead of power and Richard Attah who has not conceded a goal in his last 6 games in goal for Hearts blocked the ball with his legs after inflating his body.
Hearts settled into the game perfectly with Benjamin Afutu and Nettey dominating the middle while Ibrahim Salifu unlocked the spaces in the middle with his deft touches, greatness, artistry and romantic gift. Although Salifu and Afutu were playing the game of their lives in the opening quarter it was Congolese Raddy Ovouka who drew applauds from the fans after beautifully skirting the ball with a breathtaking flick to beat defender Ernest Danso and bombed forward to unleash a cross which was stopped by Amissah.
On 38 minutes Hearts received an unwanted news when central defender Robert Addo Sowah went down in pain. He was unable to continue the game and Caleb Amankwaah came to take his place and partnered Mohammed Alhassan in central defence. While Liberty were struggling to find themselves afloat the mobility of Nettey, Afutu and Salifu did not allow them settle into the game. The trio combined superbly in the middle and set up Kwadwo Obeng Junior who displayed true tenacity and resilience to resist a fierce challenge from the Liberty defence to register the second goal of the game.
Just after the break Salifu Ibrahim tossed a diamond-gilded pass to Afriyie Barnie after the Phobians stretched 15 passes together starting from defence with 8 out of the 10 outfield players getting a touch of the ball. Barnie’s solitary job in the process was to connect home but the dexterousness with which he applied a simple control to beat Amissah wowed everybody was attendance at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Hearts then calmed the game with simple midfield low and medium pressing following the introduction of injury-returnee Frederick Ansah Botchwey and striker Abednego Tetteh. The latter marked his return to the field with a breathtaking cross that offered Afriyie Barnie to score his first hat-trick in the Phobians colours. But, he headed the ball wide. Liberty could have scored an equaliser but George Ansong’s well-taken shot was well-tipped over the bar by Attah.
Samuel Boadu’s side have now gone on a 6-game winning streak and are yet to concede a goal in the process but have scored 11 times past opponents.
Hearts XI: Richard Attah – Fatawu Mohammed, Raddy Ovouka, Mohammed Alhassan, Robert Addo Sowah (Caleb Amankwaah) – Benjamin Afutu, Emmanuel Nettey, Salifu Ibrahim – Isaac Mensah, Kwadwo Obeng Junior, Daniel Afriyie Barnie.
Liberty XI: Daniel Amissah – Yahaya Adramani, Ernest Danso, Kwame Paul, Stanley Ampaw – Shady Dombila, Godfred Atuahene, Michael Laryea, George Ansong – Kingsford Frimpong, Jabir Ibrahim.
Goals: Daniel Afriyie Barnie 2X
Kwadwo Obeng Junior
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