Michael Essien penalty sends Persib Bandung top in Indonesia

Michael Essien's second goal of the season on Sunday night put Persib Bandung top of Indonesia Liga One after a fortunate 1-0 home win over Persipura.

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder came off the bench at the start of the second half to fire home from the spot to record Persib's third successive win, although the team were second best for most of the 90 minutes.

Despite the unconvincing performance, the Blues remain unbeaten after five games of the season.

Persipura, led by national team star Boaz Solossa, started brightly. But they were unable to make their early superiority count, and Persib almost took the lead after 16 minutes.

Carlton Cole, starting his first game in the league and picking up an early yellow card, did well at the edge of the area to start a move that should have ended with Raphael Maitimo scoring from close range.

Eight minutes before the break, Persipura, who could have gone second with a win, came close when Prisca Wornsiwor fired just over from outside the area. The visitors ended the half as they started it, by putting pressure on Persib, but the teams went in at the break all square.

The visitors carried on in the second half as they had finished the first by putting Persib under pressure. Goalkeeper Natshir Mahbuby was forced to make a string of fine saves to keep the scores level.

Then, 10 minutes into the second half, Persib got their noses ahead. Shohei Matsunaga, introduced as a substitute to replace Cole, ran onto a long ball out of defence. Challenged by Ricardo Salampessy and Dominggus Fakdawer, the Japanese attacker went down in the area and the referee pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Essien to make no mistake, blasting an unstoppable penalty into the roof of the net.

Gooolll!!! Michael Essien bawa #PERSIB unggul melalui tendangan penalti di menit 56. PERSIB 1-0 Persipura #PERSIBDay #GojekTravelokaLiga1

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Persipura should have equalised seven minutes later but Solossa side-footed wide from close range.

"I am happy with today's victory," said Persib coach Djadjang Nurdjaman. "We worked hard against a team that put us under a lot of pressure."

The coach admitted that it had been far from a vintage performance.

"There may be those who are not satisfied but we are just happy to be top of the table.

Perispura coach Liestiadi was philosophical about the defeat.

"I am satisfied with out performance as we dominated the game, but luck was not on our side," Liestiadi said. "We have conceded goals in recent games but here they scored because of a penalty."

The coach refused to be drawn on the match-changing decision.

"I have to watch the video first and I don't want to comment on the referee's performance in the game."