MANILA, Philippines – Ceres-Negros FC fell short of its bid for a maiden AFC Champions League berth as FC Tokyo blanked the Philippine team, 2-0, on Tuesday, January 28 at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
The loss relegated the Bacolod-based squad back to the AFC Cup where it will defend its title for the fourth time in the Philippines Football League in March.
Still, reaching the 3rd round of the qualifying playoffs remains as the best finish for a Philippine club.
Even if the Busmen entered the match as the underdogs without the presence of Stephan Schrock, Mike Ott and Sean Kane in the starting lineup, Ceres held off the Japanese in the scoreless first half.
Sei Muroya opened the scoreline in the 48th minute as he managed to break free from the Ceres defense and fire a shot past Muller.
FC Tokyo's Brazilian reinforcement Adaliton was close to doubling the lead in the 64th minute, but was later disallowed due to an offside call by the assistant referee.
In the 80th minute, the home team was down to 10 men as Taichi Hara was shown a red card for an elbow on Ceres' Takashi Odawara.
Odawara then attempted to exact revenge with a free kick that found Robert Lopez-Mendy, but the ball sailed just wide.
In the 89th minute, Adaliton bounced back from his earlier attempt as he scored an out-of-the-box goal on the breakaway to seal the win for the Japan League 2nd runner-up. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.