Persib Bandung were made to work hard for their 2021 Menpora Cup quarterfinal ticket on Friday as they needed a last-minute goal from Ferdinand Sinaga to eliminate Persiraja Banda Aceh from the competition. The Maung Bandung managed to win 2-1 over the Lantak Laju in their Matchweek 3 game at the Maguwoharjo Stadium and Bali United’s 1-1 draw with Persita Tangerang on Friday’s early kick-off meant that Persib are through to the Menpora Cup quarterfinal as Group D winners.
Knowing that a ticket to the knockouts was at stake, both Persib and Persiraja went straight at each other’s throats the moment the referee blew for kick-off. Febri Hariyadi created Persib’s first chance of the match with a free-kick in the 12th minute, however Persiraja goalkeeper Fakhrurrazi Kuba managed to secure the ball into his possession. Seven minutes afterward it was Defri Rizki who carved up Persiraja’s first chance of the match, however an unmarked Defri was unable to find his target.
After a period of dominance that saw them bombard Fakhrurrazi’s goal continuously, Persib finally got themselves the lead in the 24th minute. Febri managed to speed his way into the Persiraja defense, leaving the Lantak Laju defenders eating his dust as he sent a cross from the right flank. The ball was then headed into Fakhrurrazi’s goal by Wander Luiz, with the 31-year old goalkeeper powerless to stop the former Becamex Binh Duong striker’s ball from going into his net.
With the advantage now theirs, Persib tried to take full control of the proceedings, however Persiraja’s resistance proved to be quite hard for the Maung Bandung to contain. Defri once again threatened Teja Paku Alam’s goal in the 29th minute, swinging in a powerful free-kick that sadly missed its mark. Febri then almost killed the game off for Persib at the end of the first half however his finish from the edge of the area went agonizingly wide despite Febri managing to beat Fakhrurrazi.
The second half saw more of the same from the two sides, with more blows being exchanged as Persiraja chased for an equalizer while Persib seek to settle the game once and for all. Frets Butuan almost made it 2-0 for Persib early into the second half however he was thwarted by Persiraja defender Kassim Slamat, allowing Fakhrurrazi to collect the loose ball harmlessly.
With both sides squandering chances after chances, it seems that Persib would be finishing the match with the single goal advantage to their name. However nothing could prepare the Maung Bandung for a dramatic 90th minute equalizer from Persiraja, with Assanur Rijal channeling his inner Fernando Torres and pounced upon a long-ranged cross from Eriyanto with his head, leaving Teja utterly beaten.
Fortunately for Persib they had Ferdinand to thank as the journeyman striker reclaimed Persib’s advantage in the third minute of injury time. The excellently-named Beckham Putra managed to feed former PSM Makassar man Ferdinand with a through ball, before “The Dragon” managed to slot the ball beyond Fakhrurrazi’s reach to break Banda Aceh hearts.
Group D’s early kick-off saw Taufiq Febriyanto’s 55th minute strike canceling out Ilija Spasojevic’s 14th minute opener, forcing Bali United to share the spoils in a 1-1 draw with already-eliminated Persita. The draw meant that Persib would top Group D with Bali United accompanying them into the quarterfinal as runners-up, while Persiraja would join Persita in elimination from the Menpora Cup.
With Groups A, B, and D all done and dusted, our attention returns to Group C at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, who are set to play their Matchweek 4 games on Saturday. Four East Java rivals will go up against each other for a chance to get out of the group – Persik Kediri will take on Madura United in the early kick-off while Persebaya Surabaya and Persela Lamongan will do battle in the late match.