Ceres FC nears KO stage; Global ousted

MANILA, Philippines — Ceres Negros FC closed in on a spot in the knockout stage while Global Cebu bombed out in contention as the Philippine sides experienced contrasting fortunes in the AFC Cup group play Wednesday night.

The Busmen, behind the hat-trick of Spaniard Bienvenido Maranon, clobbered Cambodian rival Boeung Ket at National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, 4-0, to stay on top of Group F and move a draw way from reaching the next round.

On the other hand, the Global rallied to a 3-3 stalemate with Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa at Rizal Memorial Stadium but failed to avert elimination in Group G.

Ceres hiked its tally to 13 points through five games, three clear of Singapore’s Home United heading into their final group game on April 25. Global picked up only its fifth point in the tournament, out of reach of group leader Yangon United (12) with one match left.

Maranon opened scoring from inside the area after 36 minutes and fired his second just two minutes after off OJ Porteria’s feed. The Spaniard again made good on Porteria’s delivery in the 69th, stabbing home from close range to complete a hat-trick then sub Takumi Uesato sweetened the scoreline with a powerful drive four minutes before time.

“We controlled the game from beginning until the end and I think we deserve this result,” said Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic, whose charges kept their unbeaten run in the competition. “It’s really important to win here and we did it. We now have to focus on other games. It was important we can play more relaxed in our next game against Home United.”

Meanwhile, Global salvaged some pride at home as Wesley Dos Santos (82’) and Daryl Roberts (89’) delivered late headers to fight back from a 1-3 deficit and steal a point against the visiting Vietnamese.

“That’s the Global spirit, we never say die. We always stuck together and try to get back into the game. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come away with the victory but we still managed to give a good fight,” said Roberts, whose team will play Bali on the road in its last outing.