Jakarta. Persebaya Surabaya played its first home match since 2013 on Sunday (19/03), defeating neighboring rival PSIS Semarang 1-0 after a penalty shot found its way to the back of the net.
The action started to heat up in the match's 63rd minute, after being momentarily paused by head referee Prasetyo Hadi when a dangerous flare appeared in the stands. Prasetyo, who had previously served in the Indonesian Army (TNI), handed PSIS' Anhar Latif his second yellow card shortly after in the 75th minute, forcing the visiting squad down to 10 players.
The 17-year-old rising star Rachmat Irianto, son of Persebaya legend "Bejo" Sugiantoro, scored from a penalty shot in the 81st minute after the visitors' Abdul Aziz tripped Persebaya's Siswanto within the goal box.
Prasetyo sent off another PSIS player, Sadam Sudarma Hendra, after the midfielder protested against the penalty decision.
"I don't want to make any comments about the referee. I am learning to control myself. I believe all parties involved in Indonesian football are trying to set up good things for us," Persebaya coach Iwan Setiawan said after the game.
Meanwhile, Persebaya president Azrul Ananda expressed gratitude to the club's devoted supporters, known as "Bonek."
"I think this game was a positive thing. We speak about fanatic supporters who haven't watched their team play for years. I believe Bonek are changing, and we can see they've been adapting to our new systems of ticketing and security. They adapt well," Azrul said.
"The match was stopped because of a flare, the Bonek's expression delight, I'm aware, however, that it was against the rules," he added.
The match, which took place at Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in East Java, was attended by more than 50,000 Persebaya supporters. Notable attendees included Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, former minister of State-Owned Enterprises Dahlan Iskan and chairman of the Indonesian Football Association Edy Rahmayadi.
Persebaya Surabaya was readmitted to the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) after an ownership dispute in 2010 led PSSI to suspend the club from the country's highest league.