UNITED City FC made history on Thursday night, becoming the first Philippine club to win in the AFC Champions League after a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Beijing FC at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Substitute Mark Hartmann and Bienve Marañon led United City FC’s comeback after conceding two goals in the first four minutes of the match for the dramatic victory.
Hartmann put UCFC on the board with a free kick in the 59th minute after things leaked bleak for UCFC following goals by Jiang Wenhao and Leng Jixuan in the first and fourth minute.
Marañon then scored the equalizer off a rebound from Hartmann’s free kick in the 69th, just a day after he formally became a Filipino citizen when his naturalization papers were signed into law.
The Jason Withe-coached club dodged a huge bullet when Leng’s shot from the right wing hit the left post. On the ensuing counterattack, Hartmann converted in the 80th minute, and United City hung on to the victory.
The victory by the Philippines Football League titlist was the first in the country’s first year in the ACL. The club also bounced back from a 1-1 draw in their opening match against Beijing FC, as well as from its bitter defeats against Kawasaki Frontale twice and Daegu FC in which it conceded a total of 17 goals.
United City also moved to third place in Group I with four points, with Beijing FC dropping at the bottom with a point heading into its final match of the preliminaries against Daegu FC, which won against the Filipino club, 7-0, last June 29.