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Ceres beaten black and blue

Ceres-Negros was put in a deep hole by home side Istiklol after suffering a 4-0 defeat Tuesday night in the first leg of their AFC Cup inter-zonal semifinals at the Hisor Stadium in Tajikistan.

The Busmen never recovered after conceding a first-half penalty, allowing Istiklol to gain a sizeable advantage heading into the return match set Sept. 12 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.

Akhtam Nazarov scored from the spot kick in the 25th minute after Ceres center back Kota Kawase collided with Dmitri Barkov inside the penalty area to put the Dushanbe outfit in front before Romish Dzalilov doubled the lead with a right-footed shot shortly before halftime.

Ceres tried to make the scoreline respectable ahead of the second leg but its weakened defense allowed Manuchekhr Dzhalilov to convert two goals in the 67th and 88th.

Dzhalilov’s right-footed shot from outside the box made it hard for Ceres goalkeeper Roland Muller to at least deflect the attempt, giving Istiklol a 3-0 lead