Perennial contenders Ceres-Negros got off to a winning start in Group G of AFC Cup 2020 on Tuesday after cruising to an emphatic 4-0 win over Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Ceres, who were the competition’s inaugural ASEAN Zone champions in 2017, took just 12 minutes to open the scoring when OJ Porteria pounced on a poor clearance and fed a pass to Takashi Odawara, who took a touch to steady himself before driving a shot into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later, the Busmen had the ball in the back of the net again as Stephan Schrock’s searching right-wing cross was turned home by Joshua Grommen.
Although replays clearly showed that Grommen had used his hand to guide the ball into the back of the net, the goal was somehow allowed to stand.
Svay Rieng did have a chance to get back into the contest in the 22nd minute when Grommen conceded a penalty after clipping Befolo Mbarga down inside the area, but Thiago Santos’ low effort from 12 yards was brilliantly saved by Roland Muller.
Ten minutes into the second half, a third goal arrived for the hosts when Maranon, having laid the ball off to Manny Ott and advanced into the box, then stole the ball off his team-mate’s foot as he was about to pull the trigger and clinically fired a snapshot home.
And, with 20 minutes remaining, Maranon – last season’s top scorer in the tournament – completed the rout when he latched onto Porteria’s neat cutback and made no mistake in finishing past Aim Sovannarath.
CERES-NEGROS: Roland Muller, Sean Kane, Joshua Grommen (Angelo Marasigan 60′), Dennis Villanueva, Takashi Odawara, OJ Porteria, Manny Ott (Dylan de Bruycker 86′), Stephan Schrock, Hikaru Minegishi, Bienvenido Maranon (James Younghusband 89′), Robert Lopez Mendy.
PREAH KHAN REACH SVAY RIENG: Aim Sovannarath, Sareth Krya, Jonny Campbell, Soeuy Visal, Sok Samnang (Nen Sothearoth 79’), Thiago Santos, Daisuke Kobayashi, Suon Sovann (Samoeun Pidor 58’), Befolo Mbarga, Hoy Phallin, Prak Mony Udom (Chhin Chhoeun 75’).