In the end, there was an air of disappointment around Philippine football’s most dominant club team.
Needing a win or a high-scoring draw to advance to the next round, Ceres-Negros Football Club failed to muster the desired result and instead suffered a 1-2 defeat, 2-3 on aggregate, at the hands of Hanoi Football Club at the Hang Day Stadium in Vietnam in the 2019 AFC Cup knockout round.
The outcome allows Hanoi to advance to ASEAN Zonal finals against Indonesian side PSM Makassar or compatriots Becamex Binh Duong. Both clubs will face each other tomorrow to earn the right to face the 2018 Vietnamese champions.
Risto Vidakovic’s men had everything to do in this match after they conceded a costly away goal last week during their clash at the Panaad Stadium. However, it was the home side who went close to breaking the deadlock in the first period. Goalie Roland Muller denied forward Ngan Van Dai, then midfielder Do Hung Dung.
Hanoi’s constant pressure then paid dividends a minute before the game reached the hour mark. A costly mistake by the Ceres backline allowed Hanoi captain Nguyen Van Quyet to penetrate the box. He laid the ball towards Papa Omar Faye who broke the deadlock.
Five minutes later, it was Van Quyet’s turn to list his name into the scoresheet after another lapse in defense by the Busmen. The 27-year-old’s strike all but sealed the home side’s passage into ASEAN’s big dance but the visitors gave them one major scare courtesy of substitute Curt Dizon, who converted a Stephan Schrock assist at the 85th minute.
Dizon’s goal gave Ceres hope that it could complete a comeback in the dying stages of the contest. Unfortunately, Mike Ott’s attempt was denied by Hanoi stopper Nguyen Van Cong, while Miguel Tanton’s sniff at goal went over.
That was all she wrote for Ceres, as the 2017 ASEAN Champions were perhaps only a few defensive miscues away from reaching the region’s promised land for the third successive season.
Hanoi XI: Nguyen Van Cong (GK), Doan Van Hau, Do Duy Manh, Tran Van Kien, Nguyen Thanh Chung, Pape Omar Faye, Moses Oloya, Nguyen Quang Hai, Do Hung Dung, Nguyen Van Quyet, Ngan Van Dai.
Ceres-Negros XI: Muller (GK), Super, Kane, Silva, Steuble (C), Nazari, Porteria, Ott, Tanton, Schrock, Maranon.