Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Sông Lam Nghệ An suffered their first setback in this season’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup yesterday after losing to Persija Jakarta 1-0.
The Vietnamese side travelled to Jakarta with only 16 players, with most of their top players rested for domestic fixtures.
However coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng believed his young could at least bring one point home from the 76,000-seater Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Persija had the better of the opening stages but struggled to create any clear-cut chances, with striker Marko Simic’s header over the bar from Ismed Sofyan’s cross the closest they came in the first 30 minutes.
Simic played for three clubs in Việt Nam in 2015-16.
As the half wore on, the game was being played almost entirely in the Sông Lam Nghệ An half and it was Simic who looked the most likely to score, as the big Croatian curled over as the interval approached, before Riko Simanjuntak had a goal ruled out for offside minutes before the interval.
Persija continued to pressure the visitors after the break and substitute Adisson’s left-foot effort was well saved by goalkeeper Lê Quang Đại, before the midfielder had an effort ruled out for handball soon after.
Simic’s header from Rezaldi Hehanusa’s corner was cleared off the line and the forward came close once more when he headed Adisson’s cross from the left wide.
Bambang Pamungkas was then introduced with 12 minutes remaining as the hosts went all out for the win and the striker’s looping header was pushed over by Đại in the 85th minute.
The visitors could have snatched a goal as the clocked ticked down but Hồ Tuấn Tài curled just wide with two minutes remaining as the draw seemed the inevitable outcome.
But Persija won it in dramatic fashion when Adisson volleyed home a superb effort from the right side of the area in the third minute of added time after a long ball over the top to send the stadium into raptures.
The win moves Persija above Sông Lam Nghệ An by virtue of a better head-to-head record in Group H, both have seven points.
The Indonesian side will host Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim on April 10 while the Vietnamese team play Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in Vinh City on April 24. Sông Lam Nghệ An beat Tampines 2-0 in the reverse fixture on February 10. — VNS