Loss fails to Dampen Ceres hopes
JOHOR BAHRU—It was a defeat that hardly put a dent on Ceres-Negros’ confidence.
Playing on the counter-attack for most of the match, the Busmen absorbed a 2-3 loss to Malaysian champions Johor Dairul Ta’zim last Wednesday night in the first leg of their AFC Cup Asean zonal semifinals at Larkin Stadium here.
But the Bacolod-based squad can draw strength from the two away goals scored by Spanish players Fernando Rodriguez and Bienvenido Maranon when the return leg is played on May 31 at Panaad Stadium.
As it stands, the Philippines Football League powerhouse need at least a 1-0 win in the second leg to reach the zonal finals.
Rodriguez made the most out of their first opportunity with a diving header off OJ Porteria’s cross, just three minutes after Gonzalo Cabrera opened the scoring with a well-placed strike past Roland Muller in the 18th minute.
The crowd of 14,280 was left stunned when Ceres took the lead in the 25th minute with Maranon curling home from long range for his tournament-leading eighth goal.
Malaysian international Safiq Rahim equalized for JDT with a free header inside the box at the stroke of halftime.
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