Croatian forward Stipe Plazibat came off the bench to strike a 95th-minute equaliser as Home United, of Singapore, held Philippines outfit Global FC to a 2-2 draw at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in the first leg of the AFC Cup ASEAN zonal semifinals on Tuesday night.
It had looked like Global would claim a slim advantage going into the second leg at Jalan Besar Stadium on May 30, with goals from Darryl Roberts and Amani Aguinaldo cancelling out Adam Swandi's equaliser for the S.League side.
However, Aguinaldo's dismissal left Marjo Allado's men with 10 men with 14 minutes to go, and the Protectors took full advantage by salvaging an unlikely draw.
Home had put out a weakened line-up without several first-team regulars, including strike duo Khairul Nizam and Plazibat, both whom were left on the bench.
Global did not allow the Protectors to settle early as they came rushing out of the blocks, and managed to bulge the net on 10 minutes.
Shu Sasaki thumped home after taking down Jerry Barbaso's cross into the box, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Nonetheless, the People's Club would make it count five minutes later. Roberts broke Home's offside trap to latch onto Hikaru Minegishi's one-touch pass before cheekily clipping the ball over the onrushing Hassan Sunny.
It was the Trinidadian forward's fourth goal of the tournament.
Global went close to a second on 27 minutes when Roberts outwitted marker Abdil Qaiyyim in the box, but his resulting shot was turned around the post by Hassan.
Home were struggling to find any headway in the game. Yet, somehow they managed to grab a equaliser against the run of play six minutes later.
Sufianto Salleh's throw-in set up Faris Ramli. The Singapore winger bamboozled Barbaso on the left byline before squaring across goal for Adam to tap in.
Global would retake the lead just seven minutes into the second half.
Home failed to clear their lines from Germaine Agustien's outswinging corner. Minegishi got the initial touch before Aguinaldo swivelled to hook the leather home from close range.
Protectors' coach Aidil Sharin would react by throwing on Plazibat for the ineffectual Christopher van Huizen as the visitors strived to find a second equaliser.
Young forward Amiruldin Asraf had two opportunities and should have buried the second one. He got to the end of a half-cleared Shamil Sharif free kick, but saw his goal-bound volley denied by a courageous Paul Mulders block.
Home's chances of restoring parity increased in the 76th minute when Aguinaldo was given a second yellow for a crude challenge on Plazibat. Aidil introduced forwards Nizam and Marijan Suto as he threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the hosts.
- AFC Cup (@AFCCup) May 16, 2017
Global could have found a third goal though, if not for Hassan's heroics. The Home custodian tipped Minegishi's shot onto the crossbar before denying substitute Misagh Bahadoran's fierce drive.
That paved the way for late drama as Home levelled matters with the last kick of the game. Plazibat reacted the quickest in the six-yard box to head home Song Uiyoung's inswinging corner past a helpless Patrick Deyto.
With two away goals in the bag, Home are now favourites to progress into the zonal final.
Global-Cebu: Patrick Deyto (GK, C), Jerry Barbaso, Amani Aguinaldo, Dennis Villanueva, Matthew Hartmann, Paolo Bugas (Marco Casambre 85'), Paul Mulders, Hikaru Minegishi, Shu Sasaki, Germaine Agustien (Misagh Bahadoran 87'), Darryl Roberts
Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Shamil Sharif, Abdil Qaiyyim, Afiq Yunos, Sufianto Salleh, Haziq Azman, Song Uiyoung, Amiruldin Asraf (Khairul Nizam 82'), Adam Swandi (Marijan Suto 90'), Christopher van Huizen (Stipe Plazibat 53'), Faris Ramli