By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

CERES-NEGROS FC advanced to the next round of the preliminaries of the AFC Champions League 2020 after holding on and defeating visiting Shan United FC of Myanmar, 3-2, in a round 1 match on Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

An early goal by forward Robert Lopez Mendy got the “Busmen” going as they set the pace for much the contest.

The win pushed the three-time Philippines Football League champions to a showdown in preliminary round 2 of the continental club tournament with Port FC of Thailand in an away match on Jan. 21.

Mr. Lopez Mendy broke through for Ceres in the fifth minute, converting a cross from teammate Pika Minigeshi to make it 1-nil for the home team.

Ceres continued to put the pressure on Shan United’s defense after, with Bienvenido Maranon and Mike Ott having near ones in the 24th and 31st minute, respectively.

The Busmen eventually doubled up on their opponents in the 41st minute when Mr. Maranon found the bottom of the net off a pass from OJ Porteria.

The count remained at 2-0 at halftime.

Ceres picked up where it left off in the opening half, getting four chances at a goal in the first four minutes of the reboot which unfortunately it could not complete.

In the 56th minute, Mr. Maranon had an opportunity to make it two goals for himself but his attempt hit the upper post of the net.

Shan United took jabs at a goal in the next six minutes but Ceres’ defense proved to be up to them.

But the resilience of the visitors paid off in the 73rd minute when Zin Min Tun scored to narrow the gap, 2-1.

Mr. Lopez Mendy and the rest of the Busmen tried to steady the ship after.

They would create further distance anew in the 79th minute as Mr. Porteria connected to make it a 3-1 lead for them.

Shan United scrambled to get some real estate back and got a goal in the 87th minute care of Djawa M. to close in anew, 3-2.

It continued its charge back all the way to the four-minute added time.

But Ceres would dig deep and stand its ground to hang on and preserve the win.