Home United handed first-leg defeat by dominant 4.25 SC

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Home United will have to overcome a deficit if they are to keep their AFC Cup dream alive after being beaten 2-0 by 4.25 SC in the first leg of their inter-zone semi-final.

Following a goalless first half at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday, Pak Myong-song handed the North Korean visitors a deserved 62nd-minute lead before An Il-bom added a second with nine minutes remaining.

The result means Home have it all to do in a week’s time at the Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang if they are to have any chance of advancing to the inter-zone final.

However, few would argue that 4.25 SC did not deserve the victory following a thoroughly dominant display in the first leg.

They were unlucky not to be way ahead even at halftime with Han Song-hyok and Pak denied by the bar, while Home defenders Aqhari Abdullah and Shakir Hamzah both weighed in with crucial last-ditch blocks to prevent certain goals.

The game continued in the same vein immediately after the restart and Om Chol-song spurned a great chance when he sent a stooping header inches wide after being picked out by Sim Hyon-jin.

Home goalkeeper Eko Pradana, standing in for injured first-choice Rudy Khairullah, had a nervy first half but produced a fine double save in the 51st minute, denying Om one-on-one before recovering to claw away a ferocious follow-up from Ri Hyong-jin.

But, two minutes after the hour mark, 4.25 SC finally found the breakthrough following a moment of inspiration from Pak, who cut in from the left before sending a brilliant curler looping over Eko and into the far corner.

With Home now in search of an equaliser, more gaps appeared at the back for the visitors to exploit and Shakir did well to pressure Pak into firing wide after he looked certain to force his way through and score.

Nonetheless, in the 81st minute, 4.25 SC made sure of the victory when Rim Chol-min beat the offside trap and charged towards goal before unselfishly laying the ball off to leave An with a simple tap-in.

HOME UNITED: Eko Pradana, Faritz Hameed, Shahrin Saberin (Hafiz Nor 61’), Shakir Hamzah, Faizal Roslan, Aqhari Abdullah, Izzdin Shafiq, M. Anumanthan (Iqram Rifqi 82’), Isaka Cernak, Song Ui-young, Shahril Ishak.

4.25 SC: An Tae-song, Kwon Chung-hyok, An Song-il, Pak Jin-myong, Won Song, Sim Hyon-jin, Han Song-hyok, Pak Myong-song (O Hyok-chol 90’), Ri Hyong-jin, Om Chol-song (An Il-bom 59’), Rim Chol-min.

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