Indonesian giants Persipura Jayapura maintained their perfect record in the 2015 AFC Cup on Tuesday after recording a 2-1 win over Maziya of Maldives in Group E.
It was Mutiara Hitam who broke the deadlock at the National Football Stadium five minutes after the half-hour mark when a visionary through-pass by Robertino Pugliara picked out Boaz Solossa, who clinically fired his shot past Imran Mohamed.
Imran then made a horrible gaffe to allow the visitors to double their advantage in the 76th minute, fumbling the ball over the line in what should have been a routine save after Lancine Kone had fired a half-volley straight at him.
Maziya managed to reduce the deficit two minutes later as Assadhulla Abdulla sent an emphatic shot into the roof of the net, after Hussain Niyaz’s initial effort had come back off the post.
But despite being reduced to ten men a minute later when Ian Kabes was sent off for a second bookable offence, Persipura managed to hold out to make it three wins in a row.
The result leaves them top of the group and three points ahead of India’s Bengaluru, who climbed up to second spot following a 1-0 victory over S.League champions Warriors FC.
In a keenly-contested clash at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, the decider arrived six minutes after the half-hour mark when Josh Walker successfully converted from the penalty spot, after opposition captain Daniel Bennett had brought down C.K. Vineeth inside the box.
Over in Group F, Malaysia Super League heavyweights Johor Darul Ta’zim were handed their first defeat of the campaign after being beaten 2-0 by Hong Kong’s Kitchee, who moved top in the process.
Kitchee opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Cheung Kin Fung’s fantastic left-wing cross to the near post found Juan Belencoso, who proceeded to send a firm header beyond Farizal Marlias’ despairing dive.
And seven minutes before the break, the hosts added a second after Lam Ka Wai pounced on a loose ball in the middle of the park and played a sublime first-time pass to release Jordi Tarres, who advanced on goal before making no mistake in slotting into the bottom corner.
The other game in the group saw Balestier Khalsa of Singapore beat India’s East Bengal 2-1 to pick up their first points in the campaign and move off the foot of the table.
Jonathan Xu put the Tigers ahead after just five minutes when he capitalised on some indecisive defending by East Bengal, and sent a 25-yard drive past an out-of-position Abhijit Mondal.
Balestier then edged further ahead in the 19th minute after Miroslav Kristic beat the offside trap to latch onto Ho Wai Loon’s superb over-the-top pass and drill a shot into the back of the net.
East Bengal did pull one back with eight minutes remaining when Dudu Omagbemi met Mohammed Rafique’s flick-on header with a sumptuous volley beyond the reach of Zaiful Nizam, although it proved to be a mere consolation as the hosts held out for their first-ever win in continental competition.
Tuesday’s AFC Cup Results
Maziya 1-2 Persipura Jayapura
Bengaluru 1-0 Warriors FC
Balestier Khalsa 2-1 East Bengal
Kitchee 2-0 Johor Darul Ta’zim