Down 2 goals, Ceres-Negros completes jaw-dropping turnaround vs Persija Jakarta
JAKARTA—Ceres-Negros rallied from two goals down in the second half to stun Persija Jakarta, 3-2, in one of the most astonishing comebacks in AFC Cup history late Tuesday night at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here.
Filipino international Mike Ott met Stephan Schrock’s teasing ball inside the six-yard box in the 92nd minute to complete the turnaround, after goals from Bienve Maranon and Miguel Tanton put the Busmen back on even terms.
Unfazed by the 35,000-strong crowd inside one of Asia’s most iconic stadiums, the Busmen walked away with another victory that kept their perfect record after four matches in Group G.
The Busmen looked well-placed to top the group as they have opened up a five-point gap ahead of Becamex Binh Duong of Vietnam with two matches remaining. Another point in their next game against Shan United of Myanmar on May 1 could be enough to seal their place in the zonal semifinals.
But more than the victory, it was their relentless, never-say-die performance in 25 breathless minutes that once again reinforced their credentials as a favorite to repeat their Asean zonal title win two years ago.
There was plenty of drama surrounding the match at the Indonesian capital hours before kickoff with Persija unable to get clearance from police to allow spectators into the stadium.
The country’s police force remains on high alert as the counting in the national elections in Southeast Asia’s most populous country is still ongoing.
An hour before kickoff, that decision was reversed and Persija fans slowly filled up the lower tier of the 80,000-capacity stadium and were left stunned by the result that also dimmed their chances of making the knockout stage of the competition.
Ceres keeper Roland Muller was tested early as he denied Brazilian striker Bruno Matos from the spot in the 21st minute after a foul by Super Herrera.
But after ending the first half on the ascendancy, the Busmen’s sluggish start in the second half allowed the home side to take a two goal lead.
Sandi Sute headed home an Ismed Sofyan free kick in the 49th minute, before Matos doubled the advantage eight minutes later with a clinical finish inside the area.
But just when it seemed like the Busmen were running out of ideas, coach Risto Vidakovic sent Tanton and Maher Karic on for OJ Porteria and Kevin Ingreso, which quickly changed the game for Ceres.
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