Ceres-Negros Football Club is officially South East Asia’s standard bearer in the 2017 AFC Cup
Down 1-2 after last week’s defeat in Singapore, Ceres retaliated in impressive fashion as they prevailed 2-0 against S.League side Home United at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod. After two games, Ceres go through with a 3-2 victory on aggregate.
The home side needed just two minutes to break the deadlock. OJ Porteria got his name on the scoresheet when he converted a cross from the left flank with a one-touch finish. The Filipino-American’s goal set the tone for the Busmen’s dominant first-half showing.
Not far off the first goal, Ceres were awarded a penalty in the 12th minute due to a handball in the Home United box. Up stepped Fernando Rodriguez, who had converted the spot-kick that sealed Ceres’ ticket for this round against Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’Zim. Unfortunately, the Spaniard skied his attempt, which gave the visitors the reprieve they needed.
It turned out to be a frustrating evening for Rodriguez, as he was denied a goal once again, this time by Home goalie Hassan Sunny.
In contrast, Home finally composed themselves midway through the period. The visitors had a free kick hit the crossbar, while Global Cebu Football Club’s tormentor Stipe Plazibat was denied an easy goal by the rushing Roland Muller.
Negros sought another goal before the break as Iain Ramsay and Manuel Lopez tried their luck against Hassan to no avail.
Nonetheless, Ceres finally reaped their rewards after Porteria was brought down at the edge of the Home box. Up stepped Manny Ott, who unleashed a fantastic free kick to double Ceres’ cushion in the 42nd minute.
With a 2-0 halftime cushion, Ceres players played a more composed game after the break. The all-out attack paved way for a more balanced play by the Busmen. Home played with more initiative but Negros’ defense, marshalled by Muller, held their forwards at bay.
Ceres’ failure to add another goal contributed to a tense finale to the game. Ramsar and Bienvenido Marano had their chances, although no cigar was lit. Home sought the game-changing goal to force extra time, yet Ceres repelled them time and time again.
It was Ceres’ destiny to march on, and they did so at Home’s expense with a 2-0 result and an aggregate score of 3-2.
Up next for Ceres are Tajikistan club FC Istiklol, with the first leg to be played on August 22 at the Pamir Stadium in Dushanbe. The second leg shall be played on September 12 at the Panaad.
Ceres-Negros XI: Muller (GK), Herrera, Ingreso, Ott, Rodriguez, Porteria, Ramsay, Schrock, De Murga, Christiaens, Steuble ©
Home United XI: Hassan (GK, C), Hariss, Afiq Y, Juma, Qaiyyim, Plazibat, Faris. R, Camara, K. Nizam, Izzdin, Adam.
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