Philippine champions Ceres-Negros FC were held to a 2-2 draw by Vietnam’s Than Quang Nin in the AFC Cup last February 25 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. Bienvenido Maranon and OJ Porteria found the back of the net for the busmen but the visitors did just enough to claim a point.
The two squads battled hard in the midfield at the start of the first half with the first chance coming from the visitors in the 14th minute. Ceres-Negros had their first shot two minutes later with Maranon but it was collected by the keeper.
Stephan Schrock willed his team to half chances midway into the first half but stout defending by the Hero Miners kept the home side at bay.
The visitors took the lead in the 26th minute when a brilliant through ball from Nguyen Hai Huy allowed Jermie Lynch to split the defense and skip past Roland Muller to slot in the opener.
The Busmen had a chance off a corner minutes later but the resulting header was off the mark. Lynch was again dangerous in the 34th minute but his dangerous shot from inside the box was also wide.
Maranon got his own chance moments later but his curving shot went over the top corner. Ceres-Negros earned a free kick from 25 yards in the 41st but OJ Porteria skied his attempt off a Schrock dummy. Mac Hong Quan almost put the visitors two-up in the danger area but the ball went past the target.
It was in injury time where Ceres-Negros had the best chance after Maranon tried to chip Huyn Tuan Linh but the keeper did well to tap away. Maranon recovered the ball and ran into the box but a clip by the defender forced the referee to point into the spot. The Spaniard cheekily shot into the middle to get the equalizer which also ended the first half at one apiece.
The Filipino squad put on the pressure at the start of the second half which resulted to many opportunities. Schrock broke throught the lines in the 50th minute and crossed to Robert Lopez Mendy but ball went too forward as the Senegalese tried to recover with his shot going wide.
The former ASEAN Zone champs went on a counter as Porteria dashed through the wings before releasing to Schrock in the middle. The Ceres captain found Maranon on the right flank but his chip attempt went over.
They had another chance moments later in the 55th but Lopez Mendys shot goes over after a Schrock delivery. Ceres-Negros almost got the lead in the 61st minute afer Maranon’s cutback to Ott but the midfielders attempt hit the crossbar.
The home squad wouldn’t be denied moments later as Maranon sent a through ball to the path of Porteria. The Quang Ninh defense made contact with the ball but it set-up the Ceres winger to a lovely finish to make it 2-1.
Than Quang Ninh put the pressure to the busmen in the final half hour which resulted to twin chances for the visitors. They would be eventually rewarded in the 70th minute when Hai Huy capitalized on poor defending off a set piece to make it 2-2. The visitors held on the final twenty minutes to thwart the home attack which allowed them get a share of the points in Matchday 2.
“It was not our best night,” said team captain Stephan Schrock. “Our team isn’t perfect but we will try to improve, get back into our footsteps, and deliver what is expected from us.”
The draw meant that Ceres-Negros would still be on top with four points in Group G while Bali United and Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng have three points after the Cambodian’s suprise win in Phnom Penh. Than Quang Ninh have kept themselves alive after earning a point.
The results in Matchday 2 have broke the group wide open as only the top team gets direct qualification into the knockout rounds. Ceres-Negros will next face Bali United at home on March 11.
Photos from Ceres-Negros FC/Janb Dayrit & Mymy Alagaban