Hearts of Oak defied the odds to emerge the winners of the biggest fixture of the Ghana Premier League after beating Asante Kotoko SC by a solitary goal.
The Porcupine Warriors head coach Paa Kwesi Fabin handed new recruit Songne Yacouba a debut whilst the opposite trainer gave Kojo Obeng Junior his maiden appearance since joining.
Ivorian forward Abubakar Traore came on as a substitute to also make his debut for the Phobians.
Benjamin Afutu Kotey from the bench came on to make his first bow in the Rainbow colours.
The first attempt of the game fell through Asante Kotoko SC’s way but Daniel Darkwah’s left foot shot from the edge of the box went just over the crossbar in the 7th minute.
In the 29th minutes, Emmanuel Gyamfi came close to putting the Porcupine Warriors ahead but his shot from inside the box went wide.
Five minutes later, goalkeeper, Benjamin Mensah tipped off a spectacular free-kick by debutant Songne Yacouba to save the Phobians from conceding the first goal.
Asante Kotoko SC with a slight advantage in possession couldn’t make it count in goals before the whistle went for the end of the first half.
Just nine minutes after recess, Benjamin Mensah made another stupendous save to deny a wonderful free-kick from Burkina Faso import Yacouba.
Hearts of Oak nearly broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Patrick Razak’s acrobatic effort was parried away by goalkeeper Felix Annan.
Finally, the virginity of the game was broken when winger Patrick Razak beautifully connected a through pass from Winful Cobbina to put the Phobians in the lead in the 65th minute.
Two minutes to full time, Asante Kotoko SC came too close to getting the equalizer but a free header by Yacouba missed the goal by a whisker.
Asante Kotoko SC will travel to Nzema-Aiyinase to take on newcomers Karela United FC on Wednesday whereas Hearts of Oak host Liberty Professionals at the Cape Coast stadium on Thursday.