Ceres-Negros FC bowed out of the AFC Champions League after succumbing to a 0-2 loss against Tianjin Quanjian yesterday at the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium in China.
French forward Anthony Modeste scored a goal in each half for the home team.
“Obviously, we played against a much stronger team today,” said Ceres Coach RistoVidakovic. “We expected something similar (from Tianjin's game) today. I can be very proud of my players because they gave everything like they always do.”
With the end of their ACCL campaign, the Busmen set their sights in the 2018 AFC Cup where they will face Shan United (Myanmar), Home United ( Singapore), and the winner of the playoff between BoeungKet Angkor and Lao Toyota.
The first match will be played in Bacolod on Feb. 13 at the Panaad Stadium.
It was a challenging first half for both Ceres and Tianjin yesterday as the frozen pitch proved too hard and slippery. Tianjin was dangerous early as Doblas was forced off his line to block the danger from Modeste after a well played counterattack.
Tianjin threatened again minutes later with a free kick that went straight to Doblas and a Sun Ke attempt that was off target. Stephan Schrock had the best chance for the Busmen in the 13th minute when his left footed shot from a Mike Ott pass was palmed for a corner by Zhan Lu.
Axel Witsel, who played for Belgium in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, attempted from distance in the 18th minute for Tianjin but Doblaswas there for the save. A minute later, Modeste rose above the defense to head in the opening goal and give the Chinese Super League team the 1-0 lead.
Schrock initiated a good counter in the 24th but the defense made it difficult for Marañon to complete the play. Attempts from Kevin Ingreso and OJ Porteria in next possession, where all off target.
Tianjin took the reins in the last10 minutes of the first half with Alexander Pato, a Brazilian international player, trying to score from a narrow angle which Doblas easily saved. Half chances from Modeste and Zhao Xuri came after but both were found wanting.
Ceres had a last chance with an Ingreso free kick but the ball went over. Halftime finished with the home squad earning the 1-0 lead.
The Negros squad had an exciting chance just after the restart saw Mike Ott almost giving the visitors the equalizer from a pinball in front of goal. Schrock tried a cheeky shot off a free kick but Hang Lu took care of the ball well.
The PFL champs were bringing the game to the Chinese team but the latter took advantage of the gaps in the defense. Pato made a well weighted pass to Modeste who broke the offside trap. The Frenchman only had Doblas to beat and made no mistake putting his squad 2-0 up in the 57th.
Ceres-Negros were on a handicap prior to the match as they had to eliminate both Shan United and Brisbane Roar in consecutive away games to reach the playoff.
The Busmen made Philippine club football history after reaching the penultimate qualifying match of Asia's elite club competition.*ceres.com
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