By Kevin Sox
Philippine side Ceres-Negros FC pulled off one of the most astonishing comebacks in recent Asian football memory, stunning Indonesian club Persija of Jakarta 3-2 on Tuesday at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in the continuing 2019 AFC Cup group phase action.
Buried in a 0-2 hole past the one hour mark, Ceres-Negros suddenly poured in three goals in the final 20 minutes and change to complete the mighty comeback and silence Persija in front of a loaded home crowd.
Mike Ott provided the difference in extra time, as he volleyed beautifully a cross from Stephan Schrock in the 92nd minute to enable Ceres to gain three more points in Group G.
Sandy Darma Sute broke the goalless deadlock in the 49th minute mark, converting on a corner kick sent by Ismed Sofyan into the box. Sandy was at the right place amidst the scramble, as he was able to head the ball in past a surprised Roland Muller.
Persija doubled their advantage eight minutes later, with Bruno de Matos’ fine run resulting in another goal.
Miguel Tanton put Ceres on the board in the 70th minute as he fired what seemed to be a pass from several yards out of the box. No one had contact with the ball from inside the box, as it just ricocheted from the ground and into the far right corner of the goal while Persija’s keeper was nowhere close.
Gaining momentum from the breakthrough goal, Schrock set up a cross to Bienvenido Maranon in the 85th, which the latter then volleyed as well amidst traffic to tie things up.
Seven minutes later in stoppage time, Ott proved to be the hero, handing Ceres the club’s fourth win in as many games. The dramatic comeback sealed Ceres’ appearance in the knockout stages.