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Ceres falls short in AFC Cup

Ceres-Negros saw its historic AFC Cup campaign come to an end after a 1-all draw against Tajikistan’s Istiklol completed a 5-1 defeat on aggregate in their interzonal semifinal duel Tuesday at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.

Spanish defender Manuel Herrera scored the opener for Ceres, only to see Istiklol’s Dmitry Barkov deliver an equalizing volley before halftime that cemented the visiting side’s progress into the interzonal final of Asia’s second-biggest club competition.

Last month’s 4-0 loss in the first leg in Dushanbe proved to be too difficult to overcome for the Busmen, who still secured the best finish ever by a Filipino club in the AFC Cup.

Ceres had to overcome first leg defeats against Malaysian powerhouse Johor Darul Ta’zim and Singapore’s Home United to emerge as the champion of the ASEAN zonal phase.

Spaniard Bienvenido Maranon was one of the tournament’s top scorers with eight goals, compatriot Fernando Rodriguez had five while Manny Ott and OJ Porteria were among the Busmen’s top performers.

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