Group B of the 2021 Menpora Cup was done and dusted on Wednesday, with Matchweek 3 concluding proceedings at the Kanjuruhan Stadium. Both Persija Jakarta and PSM Makassar managed to advance out of Group B and into the quarterfinal at the expense of Bhayangkara Solo FC and Borneo FC, with Persija managing to turn around a 1-0 deficit to beat Bhayangkara 2-1 while PSM were held to a 2-2 draw by a Borneo side already knocked out of the competition.
The early kick-off at the Kanjuruhan saw PSM racing to a 2-1 lead at half-time, with the Juku Eja leading 2-0 at one point thanks to a 19th minute strike from Saldi Amiruddin and a 24th minute goal from Zulham Zamrun, before Guy Junior reduced the deficit for the Pesut Etam with a 30th minute penalty. Borneo then tied things up in the second half with powerful volley from Rifal Lastori that blasted its way past PSM goalkeeper Hilman Syah, however the Juku Eja managed to clung onto dear life for the solitary point and with it a ticket to the quarterfinal.
Persija then took on Bhayangkara at the same venue in the late kick-off, with the Guardian managing to stun the Macan Kemayoran by taking the lead in the 27th minute. TM Ichsan managed to angle in a superb cross from the right flank that was met by a powerful header from Chad international Ezechiel N’Douassel, with the ball making its way past Andritany Ardhiyasa to give Bhayangkara the advantage.
Having struggled to break down the Bhayangkara defense in the first half, Persija immediately went all-out attack mode in the second half, pressing the Guardians’ defense until it finally gave way in the 52nd minute. Persija were awarded a free-kick outside the area, which was well-executed by Riko Simanjuntak. The ball was then headed towards the goal by Osvaldo Haay, meeting its target despite Bhayangkara goalkeeper Indra Adi Nugraha’s best efforts in keeping it out. All square at the Kanjuruhan and Osvaldo’s equalizer immediately reinvigorated Persija’s spirits.
The Macan Kemayoran intensified their pressure in search of that elusive winning goal and all of their hard work paid off in the 78th minute. Marc Klok fired a cannonball of a shot from some distance that was deflected into the goal by the left goalpost, leaving Indra Adi beaten for a second time as Persija finally turned the game around in their favor.
Tensions grew on the pitch as Bhayangkara went on the offensive in search of an equalizer, culminating in an incident that occurred in the last minute of the match. Persija defender Yann Motta had fouled Bhayangkara player Hansamu Yama inside the Persija penalty area, however much to the fury and disgust of the Bhayangkara players the referee awarded the Guardian a free-kick instead of a penalty. Persija’s Otavio Dutra was then sent off for dissent after he had refused to stand alongside his teammates in the free-kick wall.
Evan Dimas was tasked in dispatching Bhayangkara’s last-chance saloon but unfortunately for the Guardian, the former Selangor FC player sent his free-kick skywards, thus allowing Persija to retain their 2-1 lead at the end of the match.
With two wins and one defeat, Persija advanced out of Group B as group winners with six points to their name, with PSM accompanying them as group runners-up, having won once and drawn twice in their three games. With just four points, Bhayangkara finished third in Group B, joining last-placed Borneo as the teams eliminated from the Menpora Cup in the group.
Matchweek 3 continues on Thursday with action from Group C at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, with Persik Kediri taking on PS Sleman in the early kick-off before the late match sees Persela Lamongan taking on Madura United.