Ceres on course for ASEAN zone final after thrilling first leg win
BACOLOD CITY – Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon bagged a first half brace as Ceres-Negros turned back Yangon United, 4-2, in a thrilling first leg of their AFC Cup Asean zonal semifinal tie last Wednesday night at Panaad Stadium.
Maranon scored both goals in the first half, sandwiching Patrick Reichelt’s goal before Yangon striker Sekou Sylla pulled a goal back 10 minutes after the restart.
Super Herrera made it 4-1, but Sylla got another away goal seven minutes from time as Ceres failed to clear another Yangon attack.
With a two-goal cushion heading into the return leg in Yangon on Wednesday, the Busmen looked on course of booking a return trip to the zonal finals for the second straight year. Home United of Singapore beat Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta, 3-2, in the first leg of the other semifinal clash.
Maranon opened the scoring in the 29th minute in style, chipping elegantly past Sat Naing, after he was released by a through ball from Manny Ott. The second goal came just four minutes later as Reichelt bundled home the rebound from close range after Naing stopped Mike Ott’s powerful strike from long range.
It was Maranon who extended the lead to 3-0 as he tapped in from the far post following a short corner.
But Yangon grabbed a lifeline courtesy of Sylla, who played briefly for Global Cebu last season. After Ceres failed to clear, Sylla fired an unstoppable effort to the top corner to cut the deficit.
Herrera restored the three-goal cushion eight minutes later with a well-placed header off Manny Ott’s delivery.
The visitors refused to go quietly as Sylla got his second for the night by pouncing on a scramble inside the area, giving the Myanmar side a glimmer of hope. The two away goals will come in handy especially if Yangon wins the next leg, 2-0.
Ceres finished the match on the ascendancy as Maranon forced an impressive save from Naing, who tapped his chipped effort to the crossbar. The Yangon goalkeeper also kept out Manny Ott’s close range effort, helping minimize damage for the visitors.
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