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Ceres-Negros tightens grip of top spot in Group G

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By Kevin Estrada

Unbeaten Ceres-Negros put up a defensive masterclass by carving out a tight 1-0 win over Persija Jakarta in a much awaited showdown in Group H of the 2019 AFC Cup at Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.

In the highly anticipated clash between the champions of Indonesia and the Philippines, it was the home side that got the job on both ends of the pitch.

Bienvenido Marañon’s ninth minute header off a Martin Steuble cross gave the hosts the early lead and eventually the lone goal of the game.

With the early offense, Ceres relied on its defense the rest of the way to claim the full three points.

The backline led by Super Herrera and Alvaro Silva picked up the slack defensively against Ivan Kolev’s wards which had Indonesian legend Bambang Pamungkas leading the line.

Furthermore, discipline was the other flashpoint on this tie, as Vahid Kazemi whistled for 28 fouls on both sides, a quarter of which flashed out yellow cards.

These bookings will definitely make the return fixture 20 days later in Bung Karno an interesting one, with those booked will be careful to avoid another one to miss out their penultimate group match on suspension.

The quartet in defence, which included Steuble and Carli De Murga, were attributed for half of the side’s clearance and tackle count, and combined for almost 69% in the duels that they won.

That stonewall job made up for their bad night in attack, in which Mike Ott and substitute Mahir Karic failed to convert their chances to put the match beyond doubt.

Ceres-Negros (4-4-2): Muller (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso (Karic 69′), Marañon, Porteria (Tanton 78′), Schrock, De Murga, Nazari, Steuble (C), Alvaro Silva

Persija Jakarta (4-1-4-1): Andritany (GK) (C), Saputra, Abdurrahman, Lestaluhu, Bruno (Ridwan 85′), Sofyan, Pamungkas (Prabowo 89′), Simanjuntak, Chand, Paulle, Susanto (Sute 66′)

Attendance: 5,878