Group G: Ceres Negros FC 3-2 Shan United
Bacolod City: Ceres Negros of the Philippines got their 2019 AFC Cup campaign up and running with three hard-earned points on Tuesday, overcoming Myanmar’s Shan United 3-2 in Group G.
Ceres have made it to the knockout round in each of the past three seasons, but the hosts were given an early scare after 13 minutes when Maycon clipped home a one-on-one for Shan.
The Brazilian was adjudged to have strayed narrowly offside when running onto a Zin Min Tun through ball though, and so things remained scoreless.
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Six minutes later Ceres capitalised on that stroke of fortune and went up the other end to establish control of the game themselves, getting in behind the Shan defence with some nice interplay on the left before a ball inside was chested back by Omid Nazari for OJ Porteria to slam home from seven yards.
Ceres kept Shan penned back with some high pressing as the first half wore on, winning a penalty when Bienvenido Maranon was brought down by goalkeeper Phone Thitsar Min.
The Spaniard dusted himself off to take the resultant spot-kick in the 37th minute, making no mistake from 12 yards as he dinked the ball straight down the centre of the goal and Min dived to his left.
Shan had lost both of their previous AFC Cup games against Ceres without finding the net, but they gave themselves hope here after 50 minutes.
A crisp one-two between Hedipo Conceicao and Ryo Nakamura on the left flank enabled the former to get in behind, and his low cross was clinically turned home by Zin Min Tun from the centre of the area to halve Ceres’ advantage and make it 2-1.
The remaining goals didn’t arrive until one dramatic late minute, when Porteria first extended Ceres’ lead in the 87th minute with a neat finish after a raking Stephan Schrock assist and then Dway Ko Ko Chit struck back instantly for Shan in the 88th to make it 3-2.
Ceres’ next opponents will be Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong away on March 12, when Shan are at home to Persija Jakarta of Indonesia.