AFC Cup: Heavy defeat leaves Ceres needing miracle | Inquirer Sports

AFC Cup: Heavy defeat leaves Ceres needing miracle

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 12:18 AM August 23, 2017

Photo from AFC Cup Twitter.

HISOR – Filipino club Ceres-Negros absorbed a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Tajikistan champion Istiklol in the first leg of their AFC Cup inter-zone semifinal tie on Tuesday, leaving the Busmen with a mountain to climb in the return leg in three weeks time.

On a chilly night in the outskirts of the capital Dushanbe, the Busmen struggled to cope against a relentless Istiklol side that made the most of its physical advantage by hassling and harrying the visitors at Hisor Stadium.

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Istiklol got a goal each at from Akhtam Nazarov and Romish Dhzalilov in the first half, before a second half brace from Manuchehr Dhzalilov ensured the Tajiks go into the second leg on Sept. 12 at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City with a comfortable advantage.

A 5-0 win at home will allow the Busmen to advance, but a 4-0 scorline will send the tie to extra time. But with the way the Tajik champions dominated the first leg, it seems the Busmen would need a miracle for that to happen.

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Nazarov opened the scoring by converting a penalty in the 25th minute after Kota Kawase brought down Dimitri Barkov inside the area. Romish Dhzalilov doubled the lead at the stroke of halftime with a clinical strike that left Roland Muller with no chance.

The Busmen hardly threatened in the first half as Istiklol controlled proceedings, pressing high and winning the ball early. It didn’t help that the Busmen missed their top defender Super Herrera to suspension as Kawase struggled to deal with Barkov.

Coming out with renewed drive after the restart, the Busmen saw Bienvenido Maranon sending a long-range effort off target in the 51st minute, but cracks in the defense continued to show with Muller and Kawase colliding as Barkov pressed, before Junior Munoz made the clearance.

As the Filipinos chased the game, Istiklol continued to find gaps in the defense with Manuchehr Dzhalilov scoring the first of his two goals from long range in the 67th minute.

There was time for the Istiklol target man to score a fourth two minutes from time as the Busmen once again failed to deal with a cross, allowing Vadiev Dilshod to set up Dzhalilov who slotted home from close range.

The Busmen fly home on Wednesday morning, but this was a tough reality check as they paid dearly for a sub-par away performance.

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TAGS: afc cup, Ceres Negros, Istiklol
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