United City FC continues to etch its name in Philippine football history as it bagged the country’s first win in the AFC Champions League on Thursday, July 8 at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
United City rallied from a 0-2 hole and completed the come-from-behind 3-2 win over Beijing Guoan FC with a brace from Mark Hartmann and a goal from recently naturalized Filipino Bienvenido Marañon.
The four-time Philippines Football League champions are now third in Group I with four points.
Beijing scored back-to-back early goals with Jiang Wenhao catching the United City defense off-guard with a scrappy goal from the edge of the box in the opening minute.
Leng Xihuan doubled the score immediately in the next three minutes as he capitalized on United City keeper Anthony Pinthus going out of line to deliver the close-range shot.
Just as Beijing thought that the floodgates will remain open for them, the Philippine club came back stronger in the second half with Hartmann netting his first AFC Champions League goal off a set-piece opportunity in the 59th minute.
Ten minutes later, Hartmann was given another free kick opportunity from the same area, but though it was blocked by Beijing keeper Guo Quanbo, Marañon capitalized on the scramble for his first goal as a naturalized Filipino.
United City closed off the match with a stunning team play in the 80th minute after Liang’s shot rebounded from the goal post and the Filipinos swiftly brought down the ball to the attacking third for Hartmann to score on the break.
Marañon’s Philippine citizenship was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, July 7, making him eligible to represent the Philippine Azkals in international tournaments.
Meanwhile, Kaya FC was on its way to pick up its first point of the tournament until Sarach Yooyen netted an 83rd minute goal.
The Iloilo-based team still remains at the bottom of Group F with no points.
United City is set to tangle with Daegu FC on Saturday, July 11, 6 pm, Philippine time, while Kaya will close out its 2021 AFC Champions League campaign with Viettel FC at 6 pm. – Rappler.com