Modeste and Tianjin put Ceres-Negros to the sword

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Ceres-Negros’ hopes of qualifying for the 2018 AFC Champions League ended on Tuesday with a 2-0 playoff defeat at Tianjin Quanjian.

Anthony Modeste was the star of the show at the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium, as his well-taken brace was enough to seal Tianjin their place in Group E of the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Ceres will now have to be content with AFC Cup football once again although they certainly showed plenty against the Chinese Super League outfit to suggest it may not be long before they take their place amongst Asia’s elite.

Despite facing a nightmare preparation for the match due to visa issues, which saw them only fly out to China one day before the match, the Philippine champions showed plenty of fight and endeavour.

They had an excellent chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute when Mike Ott’s floated pass was perfectly taken by Stephan Schrock into his stride, only for his left-footed snapshot to be saved by Zhang Lu.

But just seven minutes later, the hosts duly opened the scoring when poor marking by Manuel Herrera at a corner saw him lose Modeste, who did not need a second invitation to meet Wang Yongpo’s delivery with a header that Toni Doblas got a hand to but could not keep out.

Having taken the lead, Tianjin were always in control of proceedings but the visitors did show one or two positive signs, with Schrock posing all sorts of problems for the opposition.

Five minutes after the restart, Ceres nearly drew level when a Kevin Ingreso freekick from the left was completely missed by Zhang.

However, Ott was caught out by surprise and just could not head the ball on target with the goal gaping.

And Tianjin punished them for that miss in the 57th minute when Axel Witsel and Alexandre Pato combined to release Modeste.

Racing onto Pato’s clever first-time flick in behind the Ceres defence, the French striker advanced on goal before clinically finishing past Doblas in the far corner to secure the win and his side’s passage into the Champions League.

TIANJIN QUANJIAN: Zhang Lu, Zhang Cheng, Liu Yiming, Kwon Kyung-won, Mi Haolun, Zhao Xuri, Axel Witsel, Wang Yongpo (Zheng Dalun 79’), Alexandre Pato (Pei Shuai 86’), Sun Ke (Su Yuanjie 90’), Anthony Modeste.

CERES-NEGROS: Toni Doblas, Junior Munoz, Carli de Murga, Manuel Herrera, Jeffrey Christiaens, Kevin Ingreso, Omid Nazari, OJ Porteria (Takumi Uesato 74’), Stephan Schrock (Patrick Reichelt 90’), Mike Ott, Bienvenido Maranon.