PSM Makassar kept their hopes of qualifying out of their AFC Cup group alive by coming from behind to beat Hougang United 3-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday.
Having lost their opening two AFC Cup matches to Vietnam’s Hai Phong FC and Malaysia’s Sabah FC, Indonesian champions PSM got their campaign up-and-running by beating Singapore’s Hougang 3-1 at the Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium last month, before the Juku Eja ensured that their campaign is still well and truly alive – while at the same time ending Hougang’s qualification hopes – with another 3-1 win in Singapore.
The first chance of the game fell towards hosts Hougang during a corner, where Abdil Qaiyyim found himself with the ball six yards out. Unfortunately, the center-back struggled to control his feet, and the PSM back-line successfully cleared the danger.
PSM then received a chance when Kazuma Takayama’s poor touch allowed Everton Nascimento to seize the loose ball, but Hougang goalie Zaiful Nizam made a solid save to deny his shot.
The Juku Eja had their best attempt of the first half from a corner, with Yuran Fernandes’s powerful header beating Zaiful but hitting the crossbar, maintaining a level score at halftime.
Within three minutes of the second half, Hougang took the lead as Djordje Maksimovic headed home from close range after a clever cross from the right side, leaving PSM goalie Muhammad Ardiansyah completely stranded.
The Cheetahs started to show more confidence in possession, utilizing their captain Nazrul Nazari on the right side to threaten PSM’s defense.
However, a misguided back pass from Shahdan Sulaiman allowed Everton to carry the ball forward. As Everton attempted to play in his teammate, Qaiyyim’s sliding tackle inadvertently directed the ball into his own net, equalizing the score.
The visitors almost completed the comeback when Safrudin Tahar connected with a set-piece, but he couldn’t control the direction of his header, narrowly missing the target.
There were no mistakes for former PSIS Semarang man Tahar in the 72nd minute as he scored from a corner, putting the visitors ahead for the first time.
Hougang nearly leveled the game ten minutes from the end. Once again, Maksimovic played a role, this time from a long throw. Goalkeeper Ardiansyah spilled the ball in the box, but the Serbian’s creative finish went just wide of the target.
In the final minute, Everton secured the victory for the visitors, picking up the ball from deep, advancing forward, and beating Zaiful to make it 3-1 for Bernardo Tavares’ charges.