Marañon's lone goal sends Ceres past Persija
MANILA, Philippines – Bienvienido Marañon scored his fifth 2019 AFC Cup goal to power Ceres-Negros FC to its third consecutive victory in a 1-0 decision over Persija Jakarta on Wednesday, April 3, at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Spanish striker scored the only goal of the match after heading in team captain Martin Steuble’s cross at the 9th minute.
Marañon also sustained his streak of scoring in every tournament match. (READ: Hat-trick hero Marañon powers Ceres over Becamex)
This latest triumph saw Ceres grab solo first place in Group G with a maximum of 9 points and a +4 goal difference. It was also the Philippine club's first clean sheet of the tournament.
Persija, meanwhile, tied Becamex Binh Duong FC with 4 points while Shan United FC remained at the bottom of the group with no point.
The match started with Ceres showcasing wonderful team play inside the first 3 minutes.
Stephan Schröck produced a lovely lob to Mike Ott, who then headed the ball down to Marañon for an easy tap in, but the ball went sideways after he fired the shot.
Five minutes later, Marañon created a chance for Jose Elmer Porteria down the right flank, but his shot inside the box was parried out for a corner kick by Persija goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa.
The Indonesian-based squad had a chance at goal a minute later as Riko Simanjuntak released Bruno Oliveira De Matos with a threading through-ball, but unfortunately, the latter was flagged offside by the assistant referee. The play happened seconds before Marañon put Ceres on top, 1-0.
At the 18th minute, Ceres goalkeeper Roland Müller was called into action as he denied Ismed Sofyan’s goal-bound free kick outside the penalty box.
Bambang Pamungkas almost scored the equalizer for Persija at the 41st minute after Rizki Ramdani played in a perfect cross, but the former’s shot from close range went off-target.
The second half began with Ceres producing two early chances to double its lead, with the first coming from an OJ Porteria shot at the 49th minute but it was calmly saved by Ardhiyasa.
Another opportunity happened a minute later when Marañon found a running Kevin Ingreso down the left flank, but the latter’s left-footed attempt rattled the left post of Persija.
At the 63rd and 65th minute, it was the Indonesians’ turn to test the Ceres defense. Rohit Chand saw his header go straight at Müller, while Pamungkas’ header from a corner went over the bar.
Schröck then launched an audacious shot from way outside the penalty box at the 71st minute, but it was calmly parried away by the Ardhiyasa.
Porteria, Schröck and Ott would have 3 more chances in the last 18 minutes of the match, but the Persija defense held on to keep the score at 1-0.
Ceres-Negros FC and Persija Jakarta go head-to-head once again in day 4 of Group G action on April 23 at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in Central Jakarta, Indonesia. – Juro Morilla/Rappler.com