Global-Cebu pulled off a remarkable comeback against FLC Thanh Hoa, whom they drew with 3-3, on Tuesday evening but it was a trivial result as the two teams can no longer progress into the next round of the 2018 AFC Cup.
Both Global and Thanh Hoa entered the Rizal Memorial Stadium pitch on Tuesday night with their hopes of qualification to the playoff rounds of the next round already extinguished after Yangon United’s win earlier in the afternoon against Bali United eliminated all other Group G sides.
An unassailable gap in Group G held by the Burmese group leaders plus the relatively low points tally of the three teams in contention made it impossible for any of them to join the men from Yangon.
In a battle for regional pride, Global instantly fell behind to their Vietnamese visitors who had already beaten them in their first meeting in Hanoi. Edward Ofere perfectly timed his run two minutes into the action en route to coolly beating Patrick Deyto on a one-on-one situation within 10 yards.
The early deficit did not dampen Global’s mood, however, as the hosts went level just four minutes later. Latching on a cross-field volley, Spanish striker Rufino Sanchez smashed the ball beyond the Thanh Hoa goalkeeper to restore parity.
It was a pretty even contest with both sides sniffing chances every once in a while. Ryutaro Karube forced a save from Patrick Deyto before Le Thanh Binh got a touch on the rebound. Unfortunately for him, Paul Mulders got to challenge his attempt in time.
Yet the Vietnamese player won’t be denied of a goal. After dodging two half-chances Sanchez created for Global, Thanh Hoa regained advantage when Binh smashed the ball from outside the box in the 25th minutes to the delight of the away fans in attendance.
Global looked for another immediate reaction which almost came around the half-hour mark. Paolo Bugas played a deft ball to Lee Jeong Min who couldn’t convert within five yards. The hosts had to go to halftime trailing a goal to two.
Struggling to break down their opponents took a toll on Global. As their efforts on the attack came to naught, Marjo Allado’s wards were left exposed in the 57th minute. Another early goal in the second half by Thanh Hoa, coming from Hoang Dinh Tung who had plenty of space and time to beat the hapless Deyto in goal.
The hosts stormed back into the match when Wesley Dos Santos cut his team’s deficit to one. On the end of a Bugas cross from the right flank, he finished with his head with only eight minutes left on the clock. What looked like an easy win for the Vietnamese now looked likely to be spoiled by their Filipino counterparts.
Global, who managed to avoid defeat at home following a draw with Bali United and a win against Yangon United, kept their unbeaten record intact eventually as a last minute header by Darryl Roberts spared the Cebuanos more misery after already bowing out of the competition before even kicking the ball.
The man from Trinidad and Tobago who helped Global gain a point focused on the positives by praising their attitude towards the match. Never ahead and with nothing much to play for, Global can be easily forgiven for folding at 3-1 down. Instead, the adversity just brought the best out of the Cebuanos.
“That’s the Global spirit – we never say die. We always stick together and try to get back into the game. Unfortunately we couldn’t come away with the victory but we still managed to give a good fight,” Roberts summed up after the match.
Marjo Allado’s men will conclude their 2018 AFC Cup journey away to the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali when they take on Bali United two weeks from now. Likewise, Thanh Hoa will look to end their AFC Cup campaign on a high when they host Group G winners Yangon United in Vietnam.