Palembang: Sriwijaya defeated Muang Thong United 7-6 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time in a thrilling AFC Champions League East Zone playoff at Jakabaring Stadium on Saturday.
The two sides shared one goal each in normal time and both scored another in extra time to ensure the encounter had to be settled by spot kicks.
There it was hosts Sriwijaya who came out on top, winning the shootout with Supardi converting the decisive effort after Weerawut Khayem’s penalty was saved by Ferry Rotinsulu.
Muang Thong were quick out of the blocks and forced Sriwijaya to defend in the first 20 minutes, with Pichitphong Choeichiu and Datsakorn Thonglao both having chances.
But Sriwijaya finally came to life when captain Keith Gumbs, who was surprisingly benched by coach Ivan Kolev, replaced Rudi Widodo in 36th minute.
Gumbs made an immediate impression and was distributing the ball all over the area and with the 38-year-old playing upfront, Ponaryo Astaman received more freedom to roam.
It was Ponaryo who sent a glorious long pass to free Arif Suyono just before the break and the Indonesia international delivered a perfect cross to Rendy Siregar, who connected with a volley that was superbly saved superbly by Muang Thong keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.
But the hosts were not to be denied drawing first blood in the 49th minute when Gumbs’ free-kick took a deflection off a defender and went beyond Kawin’s reach.
Gumbs almost had a second in the 75th minute when he was sent through on goal but Kawin produced another fine save to keep his side in the game.
It was to prove a crucial intervention as the Thais equalised with nine minutes remaining when Datsakorn hit a wonderful curling free-kick into the back of the net.
Things took a turn for the worse minutes later though when Muang Thong were reduced to 10 men after Panupong Wongsa was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Gumbs, but the score-line remained the same after 90 minutes and the match went to extra time.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Muang Thong went ahead in the 93rd minute after Teerasil Dangda sent a delightful lob over Rotinsulu.
It seemed like lady luck was not with Sriwijaya after series of wasted chances, but the Indonesian side finally pulled level after Thierry Gautessi connected to Budi Sudarsono’s 113th minute cross with a powerful header.
Sriwijaya had the chance to clinch the match after Ponaryo jinked past the keeper in the 124th minute but Gumbs failed to apply the finish and the match went to penalties.