In the end, an important victory proved elusive for Ceres-Negros Football Club.
The three-time Philippine champions were left to lament a disappointing 90 minutes as they were held to an entertaining 2-2 stalemate against Vietnam’s Than Quảng Ninh, Tuesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
The result still allows Ceres to remain top of Group G in the 2020 AFC Cup with 4 points. Indonesia’s Bali United and Cambodia’s Svay Rieng follow with 3 each. Than Quang Ninh has one point only.
“We didn’t play good today,” said a frustrated coach Risto Vidakovic. “It’s not the way we normally play — we played too slow. We couldn’t read the game (and) exactly what we should do normally… Some players did not play their best. So let’s see what we can do for the next game.”
The Bacolod-based club suffered an early setback when forward Jermie Lynch eluded its defenders to score past veteran stopper Roland Muller in the 26th minute. Ceres answered back when Bienvenido Maranon won a penalty deep in first-half stoppage time, which he converted soon after.
Come the second half, Maranon set up attacking midfielder OJ Porteria, whose cool finish gave the home side the lead in the 62nd minute. However, Than Quảng Ninh found an equalizer, with Nguyen Hai Huy converting from close range when Ceres failed to clear its lines in the 70th minute.
“I’m obviously happy and proud of the boys for working hard the whole game. But obviously we’re not happy that we drew because obviously we want to come out here and win in front of our home crowd, but that’s okay. We’ll go back in training and get better and hopefully, we’ll get the win next game” added Porteria.
Up next for the Busmen is its third and final home game in the group stage against Indonesian side Bali United on March 11, 2020, 7:30 PM at the same venue.
Ceres-Negros XI: Muller (GK), Kane, Grommen, Maranon, Ott, Odawara, Porteria, Schrock ©, Villanueva, Minegishi, Lopez Mendy.
Than Quảng Ninh XI: D. Van Khoa, D. Thanh Hao, N. Xuan Tu, M. Hong Quan, N. Hai Huy, N. Xuan Hung, Lastro Neven, H. Tuan Linh (GK, C), G.T. Quach Tan, P. Nguyen Sa, Jermie.
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