Powered by three first-half goals, Ceres-Negros FC steamrolled their way past familiar foes Tampines Rovers of Singapore, 5-0, Tuesday night on Matchday 2 of the 2017 AFC Cup staged at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod, Philippines.
The win more than ensured that the Bacolod team’s proud record of not losing a game in the AFC Cup within 90 minutes remains intact, as they have won three of their last four and their second against the same team from Singapore.
It also takes them to first in Group G after two games, overtaking their Singaporean counterparts, who trail them by a point with three points. Beneath them are Vietnamese champions Ha Noi FC and Malaysia’s FELDA United, who have two points and one point respectively.
The Busmen took only 30 seconds to score their first goal of the game, as Iain Ramsay’s stunning strike from 20 yards swerved past Mohamad Izwan bin Mahbud to give the home side the advantage.
A fair contest followed afterwards, with Ceres-Negros having to do a bit more to withstand the expected Tampines pressure. As Tampines began committing too much on the offensive, they were left scrambling to defend quick counter attacks, such as the sequence that led to the second goal of the game.
In the 24th minute, Mahbud charged down a loose ball with the aim of helping his teammates clear the danger away. Instead, it presented Bienve Marañon the opportunity to round the defense before slotting the ball into an empty net, and Ceres-Negros were up 2-0.
Approaching halftime, the 2016 UFL runners-up didn’t settle for a two-goal cushion, and nabbed themselves a third through Manny Ott’s scrumptious effort just outside the box. Down 3-0 at the break, Tampines knew they had a steep mountain to climb if they were to make a monumental comeback against the Bacolod team.
Early in the second half, the Mighty Stags attempted to claw their way back to the game, but efforts in the first 15 minutes by Khairul Amri and Ryutaro Megumi were denied by Ceres-Negros goalkeeper Roland Müller.
With still 30 minutes to be played, Ceres-Negros capped off the night by adding a couple more goals to their astonishing tally. The fourth goal of the game was scored by Marañon, who also made it two for himself on a memorable night in Panaad. He met Ramsay’s well-placed pass before chipping the ball over Mahbud.
Rounding up the five-goal rout was Fernando Rodriguez, who positioned himself well to meet Jeffrey Christiaens’ cross from the left with 18 minutes still left on the clock.
Player of the Game Marañon hailed his team’s performance, saying they had played brilliantly from start to finish. “When we play like this we can win everything,” the Spaniard remarked. He also thanked the rowdy Bacolod crowd for their outstanding support.
Ceres-Negros will be at home again on Matchday 3 when they host FELDA United of Malaysia. Tampines, meanwhile, will head to Hanoi to face Ha Noi FC. The games will be played on Wednesday, March 15.