Undermanned Global Cebu FC ended its Asia Football Confederation (AFC) Cup campaign despite a valiant stand after suffering a 2-3 (4-5 on aggregate) heartbreaker to Home United FC on Tuesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
Just as when it seemed that Global Cebu would fly home with the win, Stipe Plazibat once again came to the rescue as the Croatian striker blasted a late brace to carry Home United to the AFC Cup Asean Zonal finals.
Plazibat put on a clinical finish at close range to bring the match to a 2-2 (4-4) deadlock in the 89th minute then struck a superb free kick that sailed past goalkeeper Patrick Deyto for the tie-winner three minutes into injury time, sending the home crowd to raptures.
Although it turned out to be another forgettable night for Philippine football, still, Global Cebu coach Marjo Allado lauded his men’s effort.
“I’m not disappointed with the performance of the players because we’re almost there, we almost won the game,” said Allado in the post-match conference.
Allado also noted the red card given to Dennis Villanueva in the 71st minute that brought about a momentum shift favoring the Singaporean side.
Global’s Darryl Roberts attacked from the right flank and drove past between defenders before Hassan Sunny tackled him inside the box, leading to Kemy Augustien’s successful penalty kick just five minutes into the game.
Home United went aggressive and was rewarded in the 36th minute as Song-Ui Young blasted a shot from top of the box that hit the bar before finding the back of the net.
Still down on away goals going into the second half, Shu Sasaki dived for a header off a rebound to give the visitors a 2-1 (4-3) lead in the 49th.
However, the Filipino club, like what transpired in the first leg, was cut down to ten men after Villanueva was sent off due to a high boot challenge on Marijon Suto at the halfway mark.
This was when Home United took advantage and began putting pressure on Global’s defense, setting up the stage for Plazibat’s late-game heroics.
It was also Plazibat who delivered the last minute equalizer in the first leg, which concluded to a 2-2 draw last May 16 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.