AFC Cup 2019: Maranon on target again as Ceres-Negros see off Persija Jakarta

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Ceres-Negros have taken a big step towards the AFC Cup 2019 ASEAN Zone semi-finals after beating Persija Jakarta 1-0 in Wednesday’s top-of-Group-F clash at the Panaad Park and Stadium.

Bienvenido Maranon netted the only goal of the game – and his fifth of the campaign already – in the 9th minute to hand the Philippine outfit the win, which sees them move five points clear at the top of the group at the halfway point of the group stage.

As the only team in the ASEAN Zone still with a 100 per cent record of three consecutive wins, the Busmen are now on course to reach the knockout round for the third year in a row.

In what was widely expected to be the tie of the round, it was the hosts who opened the scoring after just nine minutes.

AFC Cup 2019: Ceres Negros 1-0 Persija Jakarta (Bienvenido Maranon – 9′)

Coming in from the left, Martin Steuble floated an inch-perfect ball just over the last defender to pick out Maranon, who adjusted his body well to send a deft header past a stranded Andritany Ardhiyasa.

Persija could have responded in the 18th minute when Ismed Sofyan went straight for a goal with a freekick from the left wing and forced Roland Muller into a good save.

The visitors’ best chance of the opening 45 came three minutes before the interval when Ramdani Lestaluhu broke into the area with an enterprising charge before whipping a low cross to the back post, only for the legendary Bambang Pamungkas – with over 200 career goals to his name – to fire wide from five yards out.

Ceres then could have doubled their tally five minutes into the second half after Kevin Ingreso was left in acres of space on the edge of the box, only to see his delicate effort clip the outside of the post having had Andritany beaten all ends up.

But, as the game wore on, Persija increased the intensity in their search for an equaliser but were just unable to find a way past a resilient Ceres, who can now start thinking about a repeat of 2017 when they were crowned ASEAN Zone champions.

CERES-NEGROS: Roland Muller, Carli de Murga, Alvaro Silva, Manuel Herrera, Martin Steuble, Omid Nazari, Kevin Ingreso (Mahir Karic 69’), OJ Porteria (Miguel Tanton 78’), Stephan Schrock, Mike Ott, Bienvenido Maranon.

PERSIJA JAKARTA: Andritany Ardhiyasa, Ismed Sofyan, Steven Paulle, Maman Abdurrahman, Dany Saputra, Rohit Chand, Ramdani Lestaluhu, Riko Simanjuntak, Bruno Matos (Fitra Ridwan 85’), Heri Susanto (Sandi Sute 66’), Bambang Pamungkas (Ryuji Utomo 89’).