Ceres-Negros FC fell to a 3-2 loss against Johor Darul Tazim last May 17 at an the Sri Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The visitors however scored 2 important away goals that will be a key factor in the AFC Cup Zonal semifinal second leg in Bacolod City.
The busmen went down in the 16th minute when Gonzalo Cabrerra got enough space to receive the ball behind the Ceres midfield before firing from the edge of the box towards the bottom corner for the lead. Ceres fought back five minutes after when Kota Kawase lofted the ball towards OJ Porteria who issued a perfect ball to Fernando Rodriguez who headed past Farizal Marias for the equalizer.
Four minutes later, Kevin Ingreso found Bienvenido Maranon in the middle with the Spanish midfielder evading the defender for a strike from the edge of the box. Marañon struck the ball well enough to hit the top corner for the 2-1 lead. JDT would pile up the pressure in the next few minutes testing Ceres’ resolve. Gabriel Guerra struck from 25-yards which went straight to Roland Muller. A dangerous free kick from Safiq Rahim was blocked by the wall with the succeeding rebound covered well by Jeffrey Christaens.
The visitor were again dangerous in the 32nd when Ingreso found Marañon on the wings. The Spanish player sent the ball to Rodriguez who chested the ball and allowed Marañon to shoot with the ball going just a foot wide of the top corner. The home squad would get an equalizer in the 44th minute when a non-call to a foul on Maranon allowed a counterattack that saw Fazly Mazlan crossing the ball to an open Rahim who headed the ball to the back of the net. A long ball from Super Herrera in the final minute of injury time saw Porteria breaking the trap for a one-on-one with Marlias but the the Ceres winger shot the ball over. The half would end with a 2-2 stalemate for both teams.
The Johorean side would pile the pressure at the start of the half with chances from Cabrera and Hazwan Bakri but both shots were missed. Pressure from the Bacolod squad in the 54th minute bore fruit with Porteria stealing the ball from the defender only to have his shot tapped out for a corner. Manny Ott would get his chance in the hour mark but his 25-yard free kick was well saved by Marlias.
The Southern Tigers would get their goal ahead goal in the 69th minute when Hazwan Bakri’s shot was deflected by the defense leaving the keeper no chance for the save. JDT almost got another when confusion in the box allowed Bakri some space but his finishing got the best of him in the 78th. Ceres would have a golden chance to equalize but Ian Ramsay’s attempt went wide. The Ceres winger would get another minutes later but he slices the ball wide. The visitors would try to put the ball on the box but the home side held on for the 3-2 win.
The second leg of the zonal semifinal is set on May 31 with Ceres aiming to get a win in Bacolod to get through to the Asean zonal final. The Malaysian squad would get a slight edge going into the return leg but a 1-0 result for Ceres would be enough for the Filipino side to get through.
Photo from Lagardere Sports/AFC Cup