Michael Essien's Persib Bandung slump to 12th in Indonesia after loss
Michael Essien completed his second 90 minutes of the season, but the former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder could not prevent Persib Bandung from losing 1-0 to Barito Putera on Sunday night to slip to 12th in Indonesia's Liga 1.
The defeat, a third of the season for the West Javan club, increases the pressure on coach Djadjang Nurdjaman, with Persib having now won just one of their last six league games. Both teams starting brightly. After 14 minutes, Carlton Cole made his first appearance since early May as the former England striker came off the bench to replace the injured Sergio van Dijk.
Cole failed to open his Indonesian account. But the 76 minutes he spent on the pitch marks his longest appearance of the season so far.
Barito went close in the first half as Nazar Nurzaidin floated over a cross that Thiago Cunha headed wide from close range. Douglas Packer also shot just past the post.
Essien had little impact going forward. The Ghanaian sent a free kick early in the second-half against the wall.
One goal was always likely to settle it and it came after 65 minutes. Barito midfielder Matias Cordoba followed coach Jacksen Tiago from Penang in Malaysia at the end of last season, and scored the winner in style.
The Argentine picked up the ball just outside the Persib area before launching an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net.
Late in the game, Barito's goalkeeper Aditya Harlan saved well from a close range Vladimir Vujovic shot to preserve his team's points.
"It wasn't our best performance, but I felt we did enough to get something," said Djadjang.
"Instead we go home with nothing. It was a game that could have gone either way but one goal settled it."
Opposite number Jacksen Tiago was delighted with the win that sends Barito above the big-spending Persib into 10th.
"We showed good discipline today and the players carried out their duties perfectly," the Brazilian said. "It was a tough game and we are happy that we got the goal and we now look forward to the next game."
Despite the loss and the poor run, Persib are just six points behind leaders Madura United who went top earlier in the week with a 6-0 thrashing of struggling Semen Padang.
Former Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie was once again the star of the show. The ex-West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City winger grabbed a hat trick in the victory to move clear at the top of the scoring charts with nine goals.
PSM could return to the summit with a win at home to Borneo on Monday.
In contrast to Persib's poor form, Persija are climbing the table and moved into fifth with a fourth successive win while a fourth goal of the season from Mohamed Sissoko helped Mitra Kukar into sixth.
The former Liverpool and Juventus attacker grabbed the second in a 3-1 win at home to Gresik United.
Persib's next game comes on July 5, at home to PSM in what promises to be a crucial clash for both teams.
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.