Kelantan kept their qualification hopes alive with a decisive victory in IndonesiaMohamad Ghaddar was the scourge of Arema Indonesia once again as the Lebanese striker scored twice in Kelantan's 3-1 victory in a Group H clash at the Gajayana Stadium on Tuesday.
Ghaddar scored a hat-trick in the Malaysia Super League champions' 3-0 home victory over Arema last Wednesday and he all but ended the Indonesian side's hopes of reaching the last 16 of the AFC Cup by converting a first-half penalty and scoring a fine solo effort on the hour mark after Roman Chamelo had levelled for the hosts.
Mohamad Zamri Ramli added a late third for Kelantan against an Arema side who played the final half-hour with 10 men after Anggo Yulian Hari Sapta had been sent off.
Ghaddar started right where he left off in Kota Bharu when he opened the scoring after 16 minutes in Malang. The Lebanese striker was brought down in the Arema box by Anggo Yulian and he picked himself up to send goalkeeper Deniss Romanovs the wrong way from the penalty spot.
However, Arema got back on level terms in the 37th minute when captain Legimin Raharjo floated an inviting cross into the box from the right flank that Chamelo met with a firm header into the back of the net.
Romanovs did well to stop a close-range effort by S. Chanthuru early in the second half but Arema's hopes of picking up a first victory in the group were dealt a huge blow in the 58th minute when Anggo Yulian, who had been booked earlier when he had conceded the penalty, received a second yellow card for a needless foul in midfield.
Ghaddar took full advantage of the extra space in midfield to put Kelantan back in front two minutes later when he took possession near the halfway line and accelerated past two defenders before neatly chipping the ball past Romanovs.
The Lebanese striker helped to round off the win by cutting the ball back from the right byline for an unmarked Zamri to fire home a deflected shot three minutes from time.
The victory saw Kelantan join Myanmar's Ayeyawady United and Vietnam's Navibank Saigon on seven points at the top of the group while Arema remained stuck at the bottom on just a single point.
"We punished ourselves today with our mistakes and we conceded three goals and had one red card," said Arema coach Dejan Antonic.
"We had so many chances but we did not have the finishing touch. It came down to the quality of our finishing which we didn't have.
"We only have a very small chance of making it to the next round of the AFC Cup but our players have learned a lot from the experience of playing in the competition."
Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak said that he was surprised by the size of the win.
"Arema played more dangerously here than in Kota Bharu and they had many chances to score," he said. "I didn't have a great expectation about the final score because we played with seven reserves here but it was a good result.
"However, we have not qualified yet and every team in this group is still capable of beating each other although I think that Navibank have the most quality."