Ceres-Negros come up short against FC Tokyo in bid to reach ACL 2020

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Ceres-Negros’ bid to qualify for AFC Champions League 2020 ended at the playoff stage on Tuesday after they suffered a 2-0 loss to FC Tokyo at the Ajinomoto Stadium.

Coming up against one of the stronger sides in Japanese football and in awful conditions in Tokyo, Ceres did not look overawed by the occasion even if they did find themselves under plenty of pressure.

Highlights – FC Tokyo vs Ceres Negros FC

The waterlogged pitch did mean that Tokyo also faced their fair share of problems in finding their usual rhythm but, when they did carve out openings, they found opposition goalkeeper Roland Muller in superb form.

Ceres goalkeeper Roland Muller was in fine form early on.

Muller produced a fine save in the 14th minute to keep out a low drive by Keigo Higashi with his trailing leg, having initially been heading in the opposite direction.

Five minutes before the break, Leandro charged down a Manuel Herrera clearance to race through on goal but Muller once again stood tall to deny the Tokyo forward one-on-one, before recovering well to prevent him from converting on the rebound.

Nonetheless, the hosts’ persistence eventually paid off three minutes into the second half and, unfortunately for Muller, the conditions did not help him as Sei Muroya’s speculative effort slipped through his gloves and in.

Tokyo had the ball in the back of the net again in the 64th minute when the overlapping Muroya’s low cross was stabbed home by Adailton but the strike was ruled out for offside, although replays showed it should have stood.

The game then took a twist in in the 79th minute when Tokyo were reduced to ten men after Taichi Hara was shown a straight red for catching Takashi Odawara in the face with his elbow.

With the numerical advantage, Ceres briefly threatened to force their way back into the contest but were just unable to create one clear chance for the equaliser.

And, with a minute remaining, the hosts went on to seal the win as they hit on the counter after Ceres’ Manuel Herrera narrowly failed to fire away a shot inside the area; Adailton picking up possession inside his own area and charging straight for the opposition goal before coolly sending a 30-yard lob over a stranded Muller.

FC TOKYO: Akihiro Hayashi, Sei Muroya, Masato Morishige, Joan Oumari, Ryoya Ogawa, Yojiro Takahagi, Keigo Higashi (Arthur Silva 77’), Shuto Abe, Taichi Hara, Leandro (Hotaka Nakamura 90+2’), Adailton (Kiichi Yajima 90+4’).

CERES-NEGROS: Roland Muller, Joshua Grommen, Manuel Herrera, Dennis Villanueva, Angelo Marasigan (James Younghusband 86’), Dylan de Bruycker (Mark Hartmann 74’), Takashi Odawara, Hikaru Minegishi, OJ Porteria, Bienvenido Maranon, Robert Lopez Mendy.