Persija Jakarta have got one hand on the 2021 Menpora Cup title after an impressive performance on Thursday’s final first leg at the Maguwoharjo Stadium. Taking on Indonesian El Clasico rivals Persib Bandung, Persija blasted two quick and early goals past Maung Bandung goalkeeper I Made Wirawan to give themselves a sizable 2-0 leverage for the upcoming second leg.
The first few minutes of the Menpora Cup final proved to be a long-lasting nightmare for Persib as Robert Rene Alberts’ men suffered the ignominy of conceding after just 32 seconds. Without their key players in Ramdani Lestaluhu and Marko Simic who were benched for the occasion, Persija started youngsters Braif Fatari and Taufik Hidayat from the get-go and the duo managed to caught Persib off-guard. Riko Simanjuntak sent a long ball into the Persib penalty area that went past Braif and was received by Taufik. Taufik generously passed the ball short towards Braif who rifled in a powerful shot that left Wirawan beaten from close-range. 1-0 Persija much to the shock of everyone within the Persib camp.
The Macan Kemayoran then added more to the Maung Bandung‘s woes in the seventh minute. Once again Riko was the mastermind behind Persija’s second of the night, as it was his cross that fell into the possession of Taufik who finished things off with a devastating drive that forced veteran goalkeeper Wirawan to pick the ball out of his net for the second time.
With Sudirman’s charges now two goals to the good, Persija kept pressing forward as they chased for more goals. Osvaldo Haay, Riko, and Taufik almost doubled Persija’s tally during the first half, however Osvaldo was unable to find his mark in the 26th minute, Riko’s curving indirect free-kick in the 28th minute was easily caught by Wirawan, and Taufik was denied his brace in the last minute of stoppage time as his shot went wide off the target.
Robert decided to rung the changes in the second half as Esteban Vizcarra and Dedi Kusnandar were thrown into the mix replacing Febri Hariyadi and Abdul Azis. The introduction of both Vizcarra and Dedi rejuvenated Persib and the Maung Bandung started their attempt to claw their way back into the game during the second stanza. In the 59th minute, Frets Butuan managed to cross the ball towards Wander Luiz, however former Persib defender Tony Sucipto was on hand to thwart former Becamex Binh Duong striker Wander Luiz’s header from threatening Andritany Ardhiyasa’s goal.
Andritany then smothered Vizcarra’s attempt at his goal in the 68th minute, before the two teams proceeded to exchange blows. Osvaldo and Riko attempted to kill the game off for Persija in the 74th and 85th minute, while Persib substitute Ferdinand Sinaga saw his free-kick smacking the crossbar in the 81st minute.
In the end no further goals were scored and Persija managed to bag themselves an important advantage coming into the second leg which will be played on April 25th at the Manahan Stadium.
Prior to that, PSM Makassar and PS Sleman will take the Manahan pitch on April 24th for a one-legged tie to decide who will finish third in the 2021 Menpora Cup.