ASEAN Zonal Final 1st Leg: Ceres Negros 1-1 Home United
Bacolod: Blake Powell’s early penalty was cancelled out by an Isaka Cernak header as Ceres Negros and Home United played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the 2018 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final on Wednesday.
After a bright opening by Ceres, Patrick Reichelt played in striker Powell, who was handed a penalty in the ninth minute after being taken down in the box by Shakir Hamzah.
The Australian made no mistake from the spot as he slotted the ball past Home United goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah to give the home side an early lead and send the Panaad Stadium crowd into raptures.
But just as Mike Ott went close to doubling Ceres’ lead shortly after, Home United‘s immediate counter attack led to the equaliser and a crucial away goal on 23 minutes.
Izzdin Shafiq’s in-swinging corner found Shahril Ishak, who managed to escape his marker at the near post to head over Toni Doblas with the ball rebounding off the woodwork, with Cernak the fastest to react as he headed in to level proceedings.
The end-to-end nature of the first half continued right up until the whistle when Manuel Ott’s indirect free-kick in the first minute of stoppage time sailed over Khairullah in goal as both sides remained deadlocked going into the break.
The home side made a double change at half time, bringing in Jeffrey Christiaens and Curt Dizon and it nearly paid off immediately as Mike Ott’s close range shot from a corner was somehow kept out just five minutes into the second half.
After a period of early second-half dominance by the home team, Faritz Hameed stung the palms of Doblas with a long-range strike as the veteran keeper was forced to tip the ball around the post to keep his side level.
And it ultimately proved to be the closest Home United came in the second half as Risto Vidakovic’s side continued to dominate possession but were unable to find a winner, with the tie ending in a stalemate.
Ceres Negros travel to Home United’s Jalan Besar Stadium next week for the second leg of the ASEAN Zonal Final, with the winners to be crowned club kings of Southeast Asia and face DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC in the Inter-Zone Semi-finals on August 21.