Ceres-Negros Football Club is right where it wants to be in the 2019 AFC Cup group stage.
Thanks to Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon’s strike, the Busmen prevailed 1-0 over Persija Jakarta, Indonesia’s most successful team, Wednesday evening, at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The result solidifies Risto Vidakovic’s grip on top spot of Group G with 9 points, giving them breathing space over Persija and Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong FC, who have 4 points each.
Maranon signified his intention to get on the scoresheet early in the game when he missed a big chance to draw first blood for Ceres three minutes into the contest. It was a wasted opportunity, but the Spaniard made up for it soon enough.
Martin Steuble delivered a fantastic ball into the Persija box, which Maranon then headed into the back of the net in the 9th minute of the match. The 32-year-old then had another sniff at goal, but he headed wide this time around.
Persija did not allow Maranon’s goal to get into their heads, however, and it sought the equalizer in the first period. Ceres stopper Roland Muller parried away Ismed Sofyan’s free kick, while legendary Indonesian striker Bambang Pamungkas squandered a great opportunity to score past the former Azkal.
Ceres then tried to score the safety goal in the second period, but attempts from Kevin Ingreso and Stephan Schrock were denied by the post and Persija goalie Andritany Ardhiyasa.
With only a few minutes left on the clock, midfielder Mike Ott tried to rebound substitute forward Mahir Karic’s shot, but Ardhiyasa was there to prevent further damage. Nevertheless, Ceres held on for the win which leaves them in a healthy position.
The Bacolod-based club have a rematch against Persija at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 23, 2019, 4:30 PM.
Ceres XI: Muller (GK), Herrera, Ott, Ingresso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, de Murga, Silva, Nazari, Steuble.
Persija XI: Ardhiyasa (GK, C), Saputra, Abdurahman, Lestaluhu, De Matos, Sofyan, Pamungkas, Simanjuntak, Chand, Paulle, Susanto.