Kuala Lumpur: With the draw of the 2020 AFC Cup on December 10 to set the stage for another exciting tournament, the-AFC.com reflects on some of the stand-out matches from this year's exciting Continental competition.
Dramatic comebacks, seven-goal thrillers and stunning performances, there has been plenty to savour in the AFC Cup. We look back on five games that encapsulated the excitement of the 2019 tournament.
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Kitchee SC 2-4 Wofoo Tai Po
Group I, Matchday One
Two dramatic late goals gave Wofoo Tai Po their first ever AFC Cup victory as they beat Hong Kong rivals Kitchee SC 4-2 in their Matchday One opener.
A game that swung from end to end, visitors Tai Po went two goals ahead before Kitchee hauled themselves back with wickedly deflected Dani Cancela strike levelling things on the 86th minute.
And there was more late drama as substitute Chung Wai Keung slotted home from a narrow angle to make it 3-2 to Tai Po with just two minutes remaining before Harry Sawyer added a fourth in added time.
Persija Jakarta 2-3 Ceres Negros
Group G, Matchday Five
In their penultimate group stage tie, Ceres Negros pulled off a sensational 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta to maintain a 100 percent record in Group G and take a giant step into the AFC Cup knockout stages at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Goals from Sandi Sute and Bruno Matos had the hosts ahead until the 70th minute when Miguel Tanton reduced the deficit, before Bienvenido Maranon made it 2-2 in stunning fashion with five minutes remaining.
But there was yet more drama to come in stoppage time when, from an almost identical position on the left wing, Stephan Schrock put in a cross from the left which was stabbed home on the volley by Mike Ott to complete a shock turnaround for the Filipino champions.
Al Jazeera 4-0 Al Jaish
West Asia Zone Semi-final, Second Leg
Al Jazeera recorded a historic comeback to reverse a 3-0 first-leg defeat against Al Jaish and earn a 4-0 victory in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Cup West Zonal semi-final, with the Jordanians advancing to the final with a 4-3 aggregate score.
Coming into the home second leg with a three-goal disadvantage, Al Jazeera were determined to show their fighting spirit from the get-go and an early goal from Abdullah Al Attar had them believing in a miracle.
Feras Shelbaieh made it 2-0 on the night from the penalty spot after half time before substitute Ahmad Al Essawi had the crowd in raptures when he headed home the side's third on 65 minutes.
With the scores level it was left till the third minute of added time for the winner, as defender Zaid Jaber nodded past Al Jaish goalkeeper Ahmad Madanieh to complete the most stunning of turnarounds.
Abahani Limited Dhaka 4-3 4.25 SC
Inter-Zone Semi-final, First Leg
A hugely entertaining tie in Dhaka saw Abahani and 4.25 SC of DPR Korea involved in a seven-goal thriller in the first leg of their Inter-Zone semi-final. Curiously, the first half hour was a cagey affair with few chances but the tie exploded into life with three goals in five minutes.
Sohel Rana scored a rocket on 33 mintues, before Choe Jong-hyok's equally special equaliser. However, Nabib Newaz Ziban gave Abahani back the lead just three minutes later.
In the second half, Rim Chol-min restored parity before Sunday Chizoba netted a quick-fire brace to make it 4-2 on the night. Pak Song-rok headed home in the 77th minute to round off the scoring with the match's seventh goal to leave a passionate crowd hugely entertained.
Hanoi FC 3-2 Altyn Asyr
Inter-Zone Semi-final, First Leg
It was the tie that Vietnam superstar Nguyen Quang Hai took the AFC Cup by storm. A solid group stage campaign had shown glimpses of the young Hanoi FC talent but it was the Inter-Zone semi-final at Hang Day Stadium that he truly showed his full ability.
Visitors Altyn Asyr had stunned the crowd with an early lead but Quang Hai's 41st-minute free-kick special had them on their feet.
An equally fine strike just after the hour mark from the young midfielder gave the Vietnamese club a 2-1 lead, but Altymyrat Annadurdyyev’s equaliser brought Altyn Asyr level.
Nevertheless, substitute Nguyen Van Quyet's winning spot-kick in the 88th minute ensured Hanoi FC fans could go home with a smile on their face and with the memory of Quang Hai's stellar performance.
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