Ceres-Negros blank Shan United, 5-0; advance to the AFC Cup knockout stage
By Kevin Estrada
Former ASEAN Zone champions Ceres-Negros hardly broke a sweat as they easily advance to the knockout stage of the AFC Cup with one match to spare.
The Busmen took care of business despite an away game to repeat over Shan United with a 5-0 win in Yangon, Myanmar earlier.
The absence of Risto Vidakovic and Super Hererra were not a factor as assistant manager Ian Treyes was up for the task.
In form striker Bienvenido Marañón likewise tightened his grip on top of the scoring charts with his hat-trick to enable the Busmen to remain perfect after five matches to top Group G.
Ceres will play their last group match at home while Becamex Binh Duong and Persija Jakarta duke it out for the second spot.
In a one-sided affair, Ceres-Negros were a different beast compared to their first meeting in Bacolod as they dominate the statistics including taking 25 more shots against the hapless home side.
Sean Kane was the biggest beneficiary by getting his first start of the season, with Carli De Murga sliding back at centre-half alongside Alvaro Silva. Super Herrera was out due to suspension.
Marañón put Ceres ahead in the 38th minute when he slipped Mahir Karic’s ball at the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Ceres was up 2-0 after Marañon got his brace from the spot after Mike Ott was tackled inside the box by Zwe Thet Paing.
The reigning national champions were relentless in the second half, but the elusive third goal did not come until the 71st minute as Marañón completed his hat-trick with his low shot past Phone Thitsar Min, hiking his tally to nine goals for their AFC Cup campaign.
Another five minute rampage saw Carli De Murga and OJ Porteria put the final touches using their head and right foot, respectively.
Roland Muller came close twice to see his clean sheet evaporate, but he had to thank De Murga who blocked Maycon’s last-minute shot at a consolation.
Shan United (4-2-3-1): Thitsar Min (GK), Lin Oo, Htike Aung (Nanda Kyaw 51′), Maycon (C), Min Thu, Thar Maung, Shwe Ko, Pyae Ko (Thet Paing 36′), Phyo Win, Phyo Wai, Hedipo
Ceres Negros (4-4–2): Muller (GK), Kane, Mike Ott, Marañón, Tanton, Karic (Porteria 68′), Schröck (Dizon 77′), Carli, Alvaro Silva, Nazari (Ingreso 73′), Steuble (C)