Peter Odemwingie suspended as Madura lose top spot in Indonesia
Bali United defeated Madura United 5-2 on Sunday to leapfrog above the visitors to take top spot in Indonesia's Liga 1.
A hat trick from Dutch star Sylvano Comvalius did the damage against a Madura team missing star forward Peter Odemwingie through suspension.
A sixth-minute goal from Nick van der Velden gave Bali the lead against Madura, who arrived on the island in pole position. Then two goals in the next 15 minutes from Comvalius, the second a penalty, put Bali 3-0 ahead and in total control in front of a 21,000 crowd.
Fabiano Da Rosa reduced the deficit from the spot shortly before the break, but Comvalius sealed the win and his hat trick just after the hour with his second penalty of the game.
Soon after Aku Sukadana Pratama added a fifth for the hosts making Bayu Sanggiawan's late strike nothing more than a consolation.
"I am very satisfied with the performance and effort of the players tonight," Bali coach Widodo Putro said. "Madura are a good team but we were positive and got our rewards."
The coach sounded a cautionary note about talk of the title with just four points separating the top six.
"There is still a lot of the season left," he said. "There are many teams near the top, and there are many points to play for."
On Saturday, Persib Bandung drew 0-0 at Arema, a result that keeps both teams, who started the season reasonably well, in mid-table.
Arema had the best of the chances but were unable to find a way past the big-spending visitors with goalkeeper M. Mahbuby in fine form.
The closest the hosts came to breaking the deadlock was after 14 minutes when a header from Cristian Gonzales was cleared off the line.
Persib had chances of their own, the best of which came in the second half.
New signing Ezechiel N'Douassel, a replacement for sacked former England international Carlton Cole, had not been off the bench for long. However, he should have scored from close range when found by Michael Essien in the area, but the striker from Chad shot straight at the goalkeeper.
"Ezechiel looks good," Persib's caretaker coach Herrie Setyawan said. "We have been lacking in attack, and his arrival solves that."
Early season leaders PSM continued their return to form after slipping down the table and moved into third with a 1-0 win at Persela. Dutchman Wiljan Pluim got the all-important goal with five minutes remaining.
Bhayangkara missed a chance to go top after being held to a 1-1 draw at Perseru Serui.
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.