Jayapura, (2/4) Jubi – Goals either side of half-time from striker Boaz Solossa meant Persipura Jayapura maintained pole position in AFC Cup Group E with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Maldivian side New Radiant on Wednesday.
Having romped to an easy 3-0 win in Jayapura in their meeting last month, the result in Male’s National Stadium sees the Indonesian Super League champions remain on top of the group with a place in the knockout stages now looking a foregone conclusion.
New Radiant, meanwhile, are now seven points off the top and the 2013 quarter-finalists will need to pick up maximum points from the remaining two games to have a chance of going through to the next stage of the tournament.
“We are very happy with the result because we know how strong New Radiant is and they put a lot of pressure on us especially with the speed,” said Persipura coach Jacksen Tiago.
“For me if we won by half goal or one goal doesn’t matter. The important thing in this game was three points. And I am very happy for the guys for their performance this afternoon.” Jackson added.
The contest in the Maldives began at a slow pace with few chances of note in the opening half hour, but Persipura captain Solossa was on the scoresheet shortly after with his 36th minute strike giving his side the lead after an assist from team-mate Bio Paulin.
The home side almost restored parity shortly before half-time with a powerful free-kick from New Radiant forward Mohamed Umair, but visitmg goalkeeper Yoo Jae-hoon was equal to the effort with a fine save to push the effort aside.
After the interval Ian Kabes went close to doubling Persipura’s lead, but his shot on goal rattled the crossbar with goalkeeper Mohamed Imran beaten.
But on 68 minutes the visitors were more successful and it was their skipper once more delivering the goods as Solossa netted again after a powerful header.
The Indonesia international could have had a hat-trick late on, but his well-struck effort from close range was superbly saved by Imran.
“The result is disappointing but the performance was a big step forward from we were when we played in Indonesia,” said New Radiant coach Simon McMenemy.
“What pleased me today was the work rate of the players and they kept playing from right to the end very hard. You know it is really difficult to play against the teams who are in the middle of their season. I am very proud of the boys and they work very hard today.” McMenemy added. (Jubi/AFC/Victor Mambor)