By Jonas Terrado
Ceres-Negros thrashed Indonesia’s Bali United 4-0 to stay on top of Group G in their AFC Cup match held behind closed-door Wednesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
OJ Porteria delivered the opener in the first half, Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon scored twice in the second half and Robert Lopez Mendy also found the back of the net to give the Busmen the maximum three points.
The defending Philippines Football League champions improved to seven points after three matches, three clear of Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh and four ahead of Cambodia’s Svay Rieng and Bali United.
Coach Risto Vidakovic’s side beat Indonesia’s Liga 1 titleholders despite playing before empty seats as part of precautionary measures brought upon by the rising numbers of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.
“We were a bit sad because there’s not a lot of people in the stadium, and it’s not ideal football,” said Maranon. “But we have make sure that everyone can stay healthy.”
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It also served as the last home match of Ceres for the group stage as it will play its remaining three matches on the road, beginning with a return duel against Bali on April 14.
Porteria broke the ice in the 35th minute after rebounding a deflected attempt by team captain Stephan Schrock.
Maranon came through with his first goal off a spot kick in the 53rd before completing a brace in the 69th by heading Schrock’s cross into the back of the net.
Mendy completed the onslaught four minutes later, firing a low shot in the far side of the post for his first goal of the competition.