Bali United defeat Tampines Rovers 5-3 to set up Melbourne Victory clash in AFC Champions League 2020

Bali United Tampines

Bali United have defeated Tampines Rovers 5-3 in Preliminary Round 1 of the AFC Champions League 2020 at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Tuesday.

2019 Singapore Premier League runners-up Tampines had come back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2, before Bali’s Muhammad Rachmat equalised late in the second half to force extra time in which Stefano Lilipaly and Sidik Saimima sealed the victory for the Indonesian side.

The 2019 Indonesia Liga 1 champions will now travel to Melbourne where they will face A-League third-place finishers Melbourne Victory at the AAMI Park in Preliminary Round 2 of the ACL 2020 on January 21.

Montenegrin forward Boris Kopitovic, acquired from OFK Petrovac, made his debut for the Stags while Bali United were without key duo Ilija Spasojevic and Irfan Bachdim for their trip to Singapore.

It was a disastrous start for the hosts as Irwan Shah’s pass back was intercepted by Melvin Platje who saw Tampines goalkeeper Zulfairuuz Rudy was off his line and successfully lobbed the ball over the backtracking custodian to give Bali the lead in the eighth minute.

Platje had his second of the night only four minutes later when Stefano Lilipaly cushioned a ball onto his path and the Dutch attacker struck the ball into the far post to make it 2-0 to the Indonesian champions.

It looked like the visitors were running away with the game, but there were handed a lifeline when some individual brilliance from Kopitovic, who battled Leonard Tupamahu to score from a tight angle two minutes from half time to make it 2-1.

The Stags continued their renaissance after the restart and Jordan Webb found the equaliser eight minutes into the second period after Zehrudin Mehmedovic had split the Bali backline with a delightful through pass.

And the turnaround was complete when Kopitovic’s cross in the 68th minute was turned into his own goal by Rachmat helping Tampines to go from 0-2 down to 3-2 up within a space of 25 minutes or so.

Rachmat seemed to have redeemed himself for his own goal in the 80th minute when he planted a shot into the back of the goal only for the referee to bring back the play for a questionable offside decision.

However, Rachmat had his moment a couple of minutes later when he found Bali’s equaliser to take the game into extra time.

Rachmat continued to threaten in the extra time and had an effort denied by the woodwork early, but it was Lilipaly, teed up by Paulo Sergio, who gave Bali the 4-3 lead 10 minutes into extra time before Sidik sealed the win five minutes from time.

(Photo credit: Tampines Rovers FC)