Marañón hat trick keeps Ceres atop Group F
By Paulo Loreto Lim
Ceres-Negros FC are set to go into their final 2018 AFC Cup group stage match atop Group F, following their 4-0 win, thanks to a hat trick from midfielder Bienvenido Marañón, over Cambodian outfit Boeung Ket Angkor FC earlier this week at the Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium.
After a couple early blocked attempts by the Cambodian side, the Negrense club had their first opportunity in the 16th minute after an attempt by Marañón was saved.
Ceres appeared to be picking up momentum as striker Patrick Reichelt had a chance in the 23rd minute, which hit the left post; immediately followed by a blocked attempt from defender Carli de Murga.
In the 30th minute, Ceres midfielder OJ Porteria attempted a header that went wide and, in the 32nd minute, fellow midfielder Manuel Ott offered a pair of failed attempts.
After another series of missed opportunities, including one by Marañón in the 35th minute, the midfielder made up for it straightaway with a pair of goals in the 36th and 38th minutes.
The first half came to a close with the Philippine side up 2-0.
Shortly into the second half, Boeung Ket defender Touch Pancharong was subbed out due to an injury and was replaced by Sleh Sen.
Following his early success in the match, Marañón was clearly seeking more goals after a pair of attempts in the 61st and 63rd minutes.
However, by the 69th minute, he managed to secure his hat trick, off an assist from Porteria.
Ceres forward Takumi Uesato made it 4-0 in the 80th minute.
The win keeps the Negrense club leading Group F; however, following their 3-2 win over Shan United FC of Myanmar, Singapore’s Home United FC remains three points behind in second place.
Ceres’ final group stage match will be against the Singaporean club on April 25 at the Panaad Park and Stadium. In their previous group stage meeting, the two drew 1-1. A win or a draw in their upcoming match would secure first place for the defending Philippines Football League champions, earning a berth in the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals.
Ceres FC won last year’s ASEAN Zonal finals after beating Home United, 3-2, on aggregate./PLL, WDJ