Ten-man Persita scrapes to 2-1 victory over HAGL
Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesian teams have had positive results in the ongoing ASEAN Club Championship.
After an opening 2-0 win by Petrokimia Putra in Gresik, East Java, on Sunday, 10-man Persita followed with a 2-1 victory at the Bung Karno soccer stadium here on Monday.
Persita's Liberian defender Fallah Johnson was sent off after being issued a second yellow card five minutes before the end of the game. But the Banten-based team hung on to its two-gold cushion against one over Vietnamese champion Hoang Anh Gan Lai (HAGL).
With the win, Persita now has a strong chance of winning the three-team Group C and avoiding a potentially tough meeting with BEC Tero Sasana of Thailand, Group D and championship favorite, in the quarterfinals.
Persita will play its final group match against MTTPC of Laos on Friday.
BEC Tero Sasana, whose noted performance in the region includes qualifying for the semifinal in the Asia Champions Cup last year, overcame its strongest rival in Group D, Indian East Bengal, 1-0 in the second game later on in the day.
Terdsak Chaiman, who led Thailand to victory in the Tiger Cup at the expense of the Indonesian national team, scored the only goal in the 86th minute.
Earlier in the day, in front of around 7,000 home supporters, Persita -- whose home base is located in Tangerang, Banten, but has been ordered to play at Bung Karno stadium due to the substandard condition of its own stadium -- came from behind to seize an important win in a highly competitive and entertaining match.
Both Persita and HAGL took turns in launching attacks. Persita fell behind after Thai international Kiatisuk Senamuang shocked the host with his goal in the 17th minute with his a 35-yard free kick at the edge of the penalty box.
Kiatisuk, who has been hailed as the "Asian Zico" because of his similar playing style to the 1980s Brazilian star Zico, often managed to create trouble in Persita's defense.
Trailing 0-1, Persita went all-out in an attack led by national U-23 player Firman Utina and Liberian Anthony Jomah Ballah in midfield to supply the ball for their strike duo of Zaenal Arif and Ilham Jayakusumah.
Finally, a through pass from Firman to Ilham at the other end came as a relief for the home fans, when the latter notched home the ball past keeper Vo Van Hanh in the 28th minute.
In the second half, Persita took the early initiative in attack and in the 47th minute, Anthony sealed the victory for the home side, after receiving a wall pass from Zaenal.
The goal made Persita complacent in its defense, which almost cost them dearly.
HAGL mounted more pressure and Persita was forced to struggle in defense, particularly after the exit of Fallah.
Persita's head coach Benny Dollo said that he was grateful to have beat the Vietnamese team, which he viewed as the strongest rival in Group C.
"With MTTPC of Laos our next opponent on Friday, we are confident of qualifying from this group as the leader," he said.