Group G: Ceres Negros FC 0-1 Becamex Binh Duong
Bacolod City: Wander Luiz’s spectacular late winner earned Becamez Binh Duong a 1-0 victory over Ceres Negros FC on Wednesday that secured the Vietnamese side a place in the next phase of the 2019 AFC Cup.
Nguyen Thanh Son’s side needed a win to claim the best runners-up berth in the Asean Zonal Semi-finals but looked set to exit the competition as they struggled to find the back of the net against the already-qualified Filipinos.
But the Brazilian’s 88th minute strike – which saw him lift the ball over home goalkeeper Roland Muller with an audacious effort from almost 40 yards out – earned Binh Duong three points that ensured they squeezed past Singapore’s Tampines Rovers to stay alive in the competition.
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Binh Duong join group-winning trio Ceres Negros, Hanoi FC and PSM Makassar in the next round, and they do so after an early missed penalty by Nguyen Anh Duc had looked like it would see them exit the competition. Binh Duong will play Indonesia's PSM Makassar in the ASEAN Zonal Semi-finals.
Ceres Negros went into the game having already assured themselves of a place in the knockout rounds as winners of Group G and were seeking to maintain their perfect record in the competition so far this year.
A sluggish start, though, saw Sean Kane upend Victor Mansaray in the Ceres Negros penalty area with just seven minutes on the clock and referee Kim Dae-yong pointed to the spot.
Anh Duc, however, failed to take the opportunity from 12 yards, with Ceres Negros goalkeeper Roland Muller managing to distract the penalty taker sufficiently to encourage him to fire his shot wide of the target.
It would not be the last time Muller would be the centre of attention as the goalkeeper made several saves that denied the Vietnamese the opportunity to take the lead.
While the opening period featured little in the way of goal-mouth action, the second half saw Binh Duong push for the goal they needed to take all three points. Wander Luiz should have put his side one-up within 30 seconds of the restart, only to fire woefully off target when played in by Anh Duc.
Four minutes later, the Brazilian had the ball in the back of the net with a spectacular header, only for that effort to be ruled out for a narrow offside call.
Muller was then on hand to deny To Van Vu and Dinh Hoang Max as the visitors continued to push in vain for the opener while Jose Porteria could have won it for Ceres Negros six minutes from time had he placed his header more accurately.
In the end, though, it was Wander Luiz’s vision and nerve that won the game for Binh Duong.
The 27-year-old won the ball inside the Ceres Negros half before looking up and clipping his shot over Muller, who was well off his line and was left with no chance to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net.
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