CERES-NEGROS FC maintained its control of Group G in the 2019 AFC Cup with another victory on Tuesday night over Becamex Binh Duong, 3-1, in Vietnam.
Getting a splendid performance from Spaniard Bienvenido Maranon, the “Busmen” made it two victories in as many games in group play of the ongoing tournament to take solid leadership in the grouping with six points.
Mr. Maranon silenced the home team early as he out-witted Becamex goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong, stealing the ball from the latter in the host’s penalty area and tapping it into the net for a Ceres goal and the lead, 1-0, in the 26th minute.
Becamex tried to get back the point for the rest of the opening half, creating some solid opportunities to score, but Ceres continued to hold sway by the halftime break.
At the start of the second half both teams picked up the pace, looking to establish the momentum they needed to seize control of the match.
The home team got the first dent in the second half when Brazilian Wander Luiz pulled Becamex even when he volleyed the ball inside the net in the 72nd minute.
Ceres immediately regrouped though with Mr. Maranon scoring his second goal two minutes later to give back the lead to his team, 2-1.
Mr. Maranon and the Busmen continued to put pressure on Becamex and created further separation, 3-1, in the 78th minute when the Spaniard completed his hat trick with help from teammate OJ Porteria.
Becamex scrambled to make a late comeback on the lead of Wander Luiz but nothing would come of it as Ceres fought off everything that was thrown at it down the stretch en route to the victory,
Following Tuesday’s fixtures in Group G, Ceres (2-0-0) is at solo first place, followed by Indonesia’ Persija Jakarta (1-1-0), Becamex (0-1-1) and Shan United FC of Myanmar (0-0-2).
As per tournament format, the top teams in each of the groupings earn an automatic spot in the Zonal semifinals of the tournament.
Ceres next plays on April 3 against Persija Jakarta at its home field of Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo