Ceres delivers magical win
BACOLOD CITY—Stephan Schrock couldn’t have picked a bigger, more important match to make up for all the time he missed away from Ceres-Negros.
On another magical night at a packed Panaad Stadium, OJ Porteria and Manny Ott delivered the goals, while Schrock provided the steel and creativity as the Busmen subdued Home United of Singapore, 2-0, to rule the Asean zonal stage of the AFC Cup.
The victory completed a 3-2 win on aggregate and sent the Busmen to the inter-zonal semifinals against Istiklol of Tajikistan starting Aug. 22 in Dushanbe. Ceres will host the second leg on Sept. 12.
“We left it all out there on the pitch” said Schrock, who rejoined the team in April, which meant he was only added to the squad for the zonal finals. “We put in the performance of our lives in this final. We deserve to make history for the club, the country and Southeast Asia.”
Porteria gave the Busmen an early lead on the away goals rule with a close-range volley off an Iain Ramsay cross in the second minute, before Ott’s superb free kick in the 41st minute doubled the advantage.
The first half performance, where the hosts won a penalty that was wasted by Fernando Rodriguez and created a couple more clear-cut chances, was in stark contrast over their uninspired display in the 2-1 loss in the first leg last week.
But even with the visitors pushing men forward in the second half, the Busmen proved resolute, preserving a clean sheet for the first time in six matches.
The Busmen broke down in tears upon hearing the final whistle and becoming the first team to rule the zonal stage, which started in February.
And considering the fact that the club owned by Leorey Yanson was only a provincial powerhouse five years ago, the achievement was nevertheless impressive.
Schrock worked tirelessly on both ends, winning 14 duels and creating five chances in a dynamic display that reminded why he was once a regular in the top-flight in Germany.
The midfield maestro said he was merely making up for lost time.
“It was a very important game and I’m just honored to be given a starting place,” Schrock said.
“I had to prove that I deserve to start because my teammates have been sacrificing the past six months to get us to this stage. I owe it to my teammates and our supporters.”
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