Ceres-Negros overcomes Shan United via penalties in ACL Playoff

Philippine Champions Ceres-Negros FC overcame a resilient Shan United by winning 1-1 (4-3) in penalties in the first Preliminary Round match of the AFC Champions League last January 16 at the Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

Stephan Schrock opened the scoring in the first half of extra time with a deflected effort while United’s Patrick Asare leveled minutes later to push the tie into a penalty shootout.

It was a challenging first half for both teams as they had to play in the searing heat. Ceres had the first crack on goal in the 3rd minute when Bienvenido Maranon tried to redirect a cross that was handled well by the keeper.

A reverse ball from Schrock minutes later allowed Patrick Reichelt to cross in towards goal but the defense was there to prevent Mike Ott from poking in the ball.

The visitors dominated possession in the first half but had a difficult time breaking down the resolute defense. Shan United was producing good counterattacks in the half with one forcing keeper Toni Doblas with a fine save in the 40th minute. The half ended with a no goals for both squads.

Shan United had a good chance early in the second half but the shot inside the box was blocked out by Junior Munoz. Carli De Murga had a chance moments later but the United defense was there for the clearance.

The Myanmar champions picked up the tempo at the hour mark which saw Doblas collecting a couple of half chances from the home squad. This was highlighted by Chizobas effort in the 74th that sailed wide.

A well worked counterattack from Ceres-Negros allowed Maranon to take a free shot from the danger area but the Spaniard couldnt find his target on that occasion.

The busmen had two golden opportunities in the end coming from the Ott brothers but spectacular goalkeeping from Thiha Si Thu prevented Mike Ott from scoring and a Manny Ott Free kick went over the bar.

The match then proceeded to extra time where Ceres didnt wast time to wrest control of the match. Schrock curled in a ball from the outside which deflected to William Nyakwe’s head and straight into goal.

A wonder strike from Patrick Asare saw him beat Doblas from the edge of the box to level both teams at one apiece. Schrock tried a free kick from twenty yards but it went straight to the keeper.

The second half of extra time saw Ceres getting the better chances in the remaining minutes. OJ Porteria hit the side netting while Manny Otts attempt sailed wide. It was Schrock who had the best chance when rounded the keeper before releasing a shot that hit the near post. The match then proceeded to penalties after the completion of extra time.

Both teams were flawless in their first chance after Asare and De Murga converted from the spot. Chizoba Iyikwobe skied Shan’s second attempt while Schrock blasted one past the keeper for the 2-1 lead.

Nay Lin Tun did well but Mike Ott restored the advantage 3-2. Win Min Thut’s inch perfect strike was inch perfect as it hit the post and in. Maranon also equaled Thut’s effort with a quality strike to put the pressure on Shan United’s final kicker.

William Nyakwe stepped in for the final kick but the Shan import blasted his shot off target which sent Ceres-Negros celebrating in their first AFC Champion’s League win.

“We are still not prepared for this kind of matches,” said Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic. “The team responded good and they gave everything today and after 120 minutes, It think we deserve it,” he added.

“We only had four days of training but every time we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent the Philippines so we are thinking first of finding solutions and this is what we did. We followed the game plan, we were controlling the game most of the time, had most chances, and it resulted to a good start to the season,” said Ceres Captain Carli De Murga who was also named the Man of the match.

Ceres-Negros will move on to the second round where they will face a tough A-League side in Brisbane Roar at the QSAC Stadium in Queensland on January 23.