Quest for the group stage ends for Ceres FC, loses to Tianjin, 2-0
By Paulo Loreto Lim
Ceres-Negros FC ended their quest for the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage after losing, 2-0, to Tianjin Quanjian FC yesterday in the play-off round at the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium in China.
The match opened with a rough foul committed by Tianjin midfielder Sun Ke on Ceres defender Junior Muñoz after the former attempted to take possession of the ball, but instead knocked the Filipino player to the ground. A couple minutes later, the two collided again, with the Chinese player picking up another foul after Muñoz tripped over Sun’s outstretched leg.
In the seventh minute, midfielder Wang Yongpo won a free kick for the Chinese side after being knocked over by Ceres defender Jeffrey Christiaens, however, his attempt was easily saved by goalkeeper Toni Doblas.
By the 11th minute, the first major opportunity opened for Tianjin with Sun kicking his close-range attempt well over goal. On the counter, however, Ceres midfielder Stephan Schröck nearly put the Negrense side on the board, but his attempt was deflected by goalkeeper Zhang Lu.
Tianjin midfielder Axel Witsel struck in the 17th minute, which was blocked by Doblas. A minute later, striker Anthony Modeste, said to be a target of Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, successfully headed the ball off a corner kick and put the Chinese side up 1-0.
In the 27th minute, former AC Milan star Alexandre Pato made an attempt at goal that went straight into the arms of Doblas. Following the attempt, along with a subsequent offside call on the home side, momentum appeared to shift to the Chinese club with more pressure being placed on Ceres, along with play almost completely in the face of the visitors’ goal.
While battling defenders for the ball in the 33rd minute, Schröck fell hard to the ground and remained down, nursing a possible hand injury. He eventually got back up and returned to the match. Shortly after, Modeste nearly earned a brace with a one-on-one situation with Doblas, however, the linesman held up the offside flag.
Nearing the end of the first half, Ceres midfielder Kevin Ingreso was shown a yellow card after a foul on Pato.
Tianjin went into the half up 1-0.
Five minutes into the second half, Ceres midfielder Mike Ott nearly scored the equalizer, after Zhang failed to block an attempt, but Ott’s header deflected away from goal.
In the 56th minute, Modeste made a run from midfield, following a touch by Pato, and scored his second goal, putting Tianjin up 2-0.
Schröck made an attempt a couple minutes later, shanking the strike over goal.
Pato later made a run at goal in the 63rd minute, prompting Doblas to come off his line, in a risky attempt to take the ball from the striker, which managed to be a successful effort by the keeper.
Shortly after, following a missed an opportunity at goal by Ceres midfielder Bienvenido Marañón, a subsequent foul by the Chinese side offered a free kick chance for the visitors, but with the ball delivered by Ingreso getting deflected away from goal and resulting in an unintentional handball by Ceres midfielder OJ Porteria, possession returned to Tianjin.
In the 69th minute, another Pato run forced Doblas off the line again, however, this time, the Tianjin striker kept the ball but failed to score despite an open goal.
In the 74th minute, Ceres striker Takumi Uesato was subbed in for Porteria.
Modeste picked up another attempt at goal in the 80th minute but missed his chance at scoring a hat trick.
With five minutes left in the second half, in an attempt to fortify the Tianjin goal, Pato was subbed out for defender Pei Shuai.
Nearing the end of regulation time, Schröck dribbled the ball just outside the Tianjin goal, eventually attempting a cross for awaiting Ceres strikers, however, Zhang managed to get a hold of the ball. Shortly after, the Ceres midfielder was subbed out for Patrick Reichelt in stoppage time.
Tianjin’s win secured their spot in Group E of the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage./PLL, WDJ