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ASEAN Zonal Semi-final - 1st Leg: Ceres Negros 1-1 Hanoi FC 

Balaclod: Hanoi FC recovered from a goal behind to earn a 1-1 away draw against Ceres Negros FC in the first leg of their AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal semi-final on Tuesday.

Risto Vidakovic’s side took the lead through Bienvenido Marańon just before the hour mark, but the visitors returned fire through Senegalese forward Pape Omar Faye to earn a share of the spoils and a potentially vital away goal at Panaad Stadium.

The two sides will meet again at Hanoi’s Hang Day Stadium next Tuesday, with the winners to advance to the ASEAN Zonal final.

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Miguel Tanton had a shot on target within two minutes for the Ceres, but the visitors hit back quickly, with Omar Faye’s intelligent ball putting Nguyen Van Quyet through on goal, only for Roland Muller to deny the Hanoi captain with a terrific low save.

After that early action, the game became more of battle as the half progressed, with the damp conditions in Balaclod making quick ball movement difficult as both sides engaged in a number of spirited challenges.

Ceres’ momentum grew in the latter stages of the first half, but they were denied on more than one occasion by the Hanoi goalkeeper Nguyen Van Cong, who kept the Vietnamese club level with successive saves from Marańon and Mike Ott.

Having survived those moments of danger, Hanoi very nearly went to the interval ahead, but Do Hung Dung’s 44th attempt skidded inches across the face of Muller’s goal to leave the sides level at half-time.

After the break, it was Ceres who broke through, as Marańon found space at the back post to latch onto Stephan Shröck’s pinpoint cross from the right-hand side, before heading the ball across Van Cong and into the bottom corner in the 57th minute.

Hanoi now had work to do, but, once again, they responded; this time finding an equaliser in the 67th minute when Pham Thanh Luong – only just introduced as a substitute - showed great poise to set up Omar Faye, who was equally serene in steering the ball home from six yards despite the presence of several yellow Ceres shirts.

Nguyen Quang Hai moulded chances for both Van Quyet and Hoang Vu Samson late in the piece for Hanoi, but both went begging, while Ott sent an opportunistic effort wide for Ceres in the 90th minute as the sides remained deadlocked, setting up a mouth-watering return leg in Vietnam next Tuesday.

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