GLOBAL-CEBU and Ceres Negros toppled their respective opponents in separate venues on Wednesday night to inch closer to the knockout stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017.
Global-Cebu again missed skipper Misagh Bahadoran because of a knee injury but bucked a lethargic start to book a 4-2 conquest of Magwe Football Club of Myanmar at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon.
Ceres Negros, on the other hand, annihilated Hanoi FC of Vietnam, 6-2, in an all-important match that got the team back on top of Group G in front of an ecstatic home crowd at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
Global solidified its grip on top of Group F with 12 points, two points clear of Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia, while Ceres regained the Group G lead with eight points, the same output as Hanoi. But the Busmen got the solo top spot because of a +6 goal difference.
A victory in their last group stage matches on May 3—Ceres againstn Tampines Rovers at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore and Global opposite Cambodia’s Beoungket Angkor at the Rizal Memorial Stadium—would clinch the Philippine clubs semifinal tickers.
Ceres was a team on a mission. The Busmen were fast and furious on their home pitch and got off to a 2-0 start behind Bienvenido Marañon and Kevin Ingreso in the 13th and 21st-minute, respectively.
Pham Thanh Luong responded for the Vietnam side in the 25th minute to stay within striking distance at halftime.
But there was no stopping the Busmen with Fernando Rodriguez scoring in the 54th and 70th minutes to give the home team a 4-1 spread. Hanoi managed to score in the 86th minute on Do Hung Dung’s penalty kick, but Ceres closed out the blowout with goals from Jason de Jong (88th minute) and Marañon’s penalty kick conversion in the 90th minute.
Global, in contrast, trailed 0-1 in the first half with Naing Naing Kyaw drawing first blood for Magwe in the 38th minute.
The Cebu-based squad continued to grope early in the second half until Azkal mainstay Hikaru Minegishi provided the equalizer in the 71st minute, igniting Global’s fiery 4-0 run in a 20-minute span.
Trinidad striker Darryl Roberts drilled one in the 81st and 83rd minutes and Shu Sasaki nailed another in the 89th minute for a 4-1 Global breather. Naing Lin Tun scored Magwe’s last goal at stoppage time.