Ceres Negros edges Shan United, advances in AFC Champions League preliminaries

The bus is rolling on in the AFC Champions League. Ceres Negros FC got their season off to a winning start after holding off Shan United, 3-2, in the first round of the AFC Champions League preliminaries on Tuesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Ceres Negros got off to a dream start in Manila after Robert Lopez Mendy smashed in the opener in the 5th minute to put the Busmen ahead.

The early goal proved to be a sign of what was to come, with the hosts controlling most of the game in the first half. Ceres striker Bienvinido Maranon almost doubled up the lead in the 21st minute, but his low strike via a Mike Ott feed inside the box went wide of the mark.

The hosts finally broke through for a second time in the 40th minute, after Marañon's shot from an OJ Porteria cross was deflected into the back of the net.

The second half continued the run of play of the first 45 minutes, with Ceres eager to put the game to bed early.

Lopez Mendy almost doubled up his tally in the first five minutes of the second half, but failed to take advantage of a one-on-one opportunity with the keeper and could not convert a guilt-edged rebound. Porteria also had a chance to score in that period, but skied his opportunity.

Shan looked more threatening midway through the second period, finally getting the better of keeper Roland Muller through a Zin Min Tun strike in the 73rd minute.

It didn't take long for Ceres to restore their two-goal cushion though, after Porteria turned in Ott's cross from short range just six minutes later. But with three minutes left in normal time, Djedje Maximin Djawa pulled the visitors within one goal again.

The final chance of consequence came in added time with Shan United through a free kick in the Ceres penalty area. Fortunately for the hosts, Nanda Kyaw's free kick sailed high and wide of the mark.

Ceres Negros will move on to play Thailand's Port FC in the second round of the preliminaries on January 21.