Ceres-Negros FC did the impossible after it came back from two goals down in the second half to score a monstrous 3-2 victory over Persija Jakarta last Aprl 23 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium at the Indonesian capital. Miguel Tanton, Bienvenido Maranon, and Mike Ott scored for Philippine squad while Sandy Sute and Bruno Matos tallied for the home team.
The former ASEAN champs had the earliest chance in the match after an early siege by the Tigers. Alvaro Silva headed in a short corner towards the face of goal where strikes from Maranon and Ott were blocked well by Persija captain Andritany in the 8th minute.
Persija used their boisterous crowd to their advantage which propelled their confidence which led to a penalty on the 19th. Super Herrera’s hard challenge at the edge of the box on Rohit Chand with Matos stepping in for the shot. The Brazilian shot low but Roland Muller guessed right to maintain the stalemate in the early going.
Both teams would fight for an interesting midfield battle in the remainder of the first half producing some half chances but none would challenge the two keepers. The half ended with a 0-0 scoreline for the new rivals.
Persija came roaring at the start of the second half after it broke the tie four minutes after a restart. A solid delivery from Ismed Sofyan allowed Sandy to sneak in a header to the near post to put the tigers ahead.
Ceres almost made an equalizer minutes later when a long distance shot by Maranon was palmed forward by the keeper towards OJ Porteria whose instinctive shot was also tapped away by the Persija captain. Kevin Ingreso had a chance off a set piece from the edge of the box but the center half put his free kick over the bar.
The home squad made the visitors pay moments later after another set piece was headed into play towards Matos who made no mistake from inside the box to send the crowd into a frenzy after the 2-0 lead in the 57th minute.
With the deficit hanging over the busmen, Coach Risto Vidakovic called for a double substitution putting in Mahir Karic and Miguel Tanton into the game in the 63rd minute. The fresh legs of the duo made instant impact as the Persija defense was put into the test in the final half hour.
Karic faked a defender in the 68th minute in the box before he released a pass to Omid Nazari whose 15-yard shot was just off the top corner. The lanky striker forced Ryuji Otomo to a bad tackle and gifting Ceres a free kick from thirty-five yards.
Tanton’s resulting free kick went the distance and bounced in front of goal and went into the top corner to put the busmen back in contention.
With renewed energy and momentum, the Filipinos pushed for an equalizer and were rewarded in the 85th when Stephan Schrock’s cross found Maranon who headed in his 6th goal of the tournament to put the crowd in stunned silence after the equalizer.
The Negros squad pushed to create after the kickoff which saw Schrock sneaky ball to Maranon kicked out for a corner by the keeper. Nazari volleyed in the resulting corner which made its way to Super who missed from point blank range.
Karic was again influential in the 90th minute when he layed off to Ott whose attempt was blocked for a corner. Ceres’ persistence in the end was rewarded as another glorious cross from Schrock found its way to Ott who side footed the winner in the 2nd minute of added time. The referee blew the final whistle minutes later and Ceres-Negros celebrated its mastery of Persija Jakarta with a delightful 3-2 victory.
“The first half was so difficult as Persija had to press,” said Maranon. “After we got the equalizer we got more energy than them and we wanted to score more.”
“I’m so happy for my team because we’ve been training for this and also for everyone inside the pitch. They did their best, they enjoyed the game, and got the result that kept us in position,” Maranon added.
The win solidified the busmen’s place on top of the group with 12 points with four wins followed by Becamex Bin Duong at second with 7 points after matchday 4. The Philippine champs will travel next to Yangon to face Shan United on May 1st.
All photos from the AFC Cup