Ceres-Negros opens 2020 AFC Cup bid in style
Philippines Football League champion Ceres-Negros opened its 2020 AFC Cup campaign in style, drubbing Svey Rieng of Cambodia, 4-0, last Tuesday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Quickfire goals from Takashi Odawara and Josh Grommen in the first half and a second half brace from Bienve Marañon ensured maximum points for the Busmen in their Group G opener.
The Busmen also needed the heroics of goalkeeper Roland Muller in the 23rd minute after Grommen brought down Jean Mbarga inside the area. Svey Rieng’s Brazilian midfielder Thiago Dos Santos stepped up to take the penalty only for Muller to deny him with a brilliant reflex save.
Out to prove that it deserves the distinction as the top ranked team in Southeast Asia, the Busmen dominated possession for long periods. Ceres found its passing rhythm early with Mike Ott and Stephan Schrock pulling the strings at midfield.
A quick passing sequence led to OJ Porteria findinh Odawara inside the box and the Japanese rifled home a shot to the bottom corner for the opener in the 13th minute.
The Busmen, the Asean zone champions three years ago, moved two goals up a minute later, albeit in controversial fashion.
Schrock’s cross seemed headed for goal before Grommen got a touch. Replays showed the ball grazed Grommen’s right before crossing the line.
Marañon, the top scorer of the competition last season, found the back of the net from a tight angle in the 55th minute after some clever play from Ott, who was making his return to the club after an injury-riddled season in Thailand last year.
The rout was completed in front of 4,100 fans in the 70th minute when Marañon fired another low shot into the bottom corner after excellent work by Porteria again on the right.
The Busmen face Than Quang Ninh of Vietnam on Feb. 25 in the second match of the group stage.
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