MANILA, Philippines – Ceres-Negros FC cleared the first stage of the AFC Champions League qualifying play-offs with a 3-2 escape win over Shan United FC on Tuesday, January 14, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The Bacolod-based squad will face Thai League 1 team Port FC, which is reinforced by former Ceres captain Martin Steuble, on Tuesday, January 21, in Bangkok, Thailand.
Despite playing away from Bacolod City, the Busmen managed to draw an attendance of 3.704 in Manila.
The Philippines Football League champions dominated the game from the get-go as Robert Lopez-Mendy scored early in the 5th minute after he connected a cross from Pika Minegishi.
Ceres built on its momentum and finally doubled the lead in the 40th minute when Spanish striker Bienvienido Marañon connected a cross from OJ Porteria as the volley found the back of the net.
After the Busmen opened the second half with back-to-back attempts in the dangerous area, Shan United pulled one back thanks to Zin Min Tun who headed the ball past Roland Muller in the 73rd minute.
In the 79th minute, Ceres recovered from its less dominant second half as Porteria fired a close-range strike off a cross from Mike Ott to give the Busmen enough cushion until the end of the match.
Shan United did not stop threatening the home team as Djedje Maximin Djawa capitalized on Ceres' open defense to close the score gap back to one, but the Myanmar squad's efforts weren't enough to drag the match to extra time. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.