On a humid summer night, Ceres Negros FC let it rain over Vietnamese side Hanoi FC, thrashing them, 6-2, in front of a capacity crowd at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, Negros Occidental.
Bienvenido Maranon, Kevin Ingreso, Fernando Rodriguez, and Jason De Jong put on a performance to remember for the Negros side. The win allowed Ceres to move back to the top of Group G with eight points, level with Hanoi but with a better head-to-head record. In the other group match, Felda United fell at the hands of Tampines Rovers, 1-3.
Heading into the match, Ceres needed to take maximum points to keep their chances of qualifying to the zonal semifinals alive. Any dropped points would have been disastrous for the club.
Maranon kickstarted the party with a 13th minute penalty kick. Kevin Ingreso doubled the advantage in the 21st minute after a powerful shot on goal.
Hanoi pulled one back from a Phan Thanh Luong free kick in the 25th minute to give the visitors a lifeline. Ceres had a 2-1 lead at the half.
The second half saw the Negros squad looking to kill off their opponents with their blistering pace in attack. Rodriguez made it 3-1 in the 51st minute with a looping effort over the keeper and into the top corner.
Tempers flared at the hour mark. Hanoi substitute Hoang Vu Samson was given a straight red card for violent conduct.
Ceres netted their fourth goal in the 69th minute from an unlikely source. Hanoi defender Alvaro Silva turned the ball into his own net as Rodriguez was about to take the shot.
Hanoi claimed some pride late on as Do Hung Dung scored from the spot in the 86th minute. However, de Jong and Maranon scored a goal each to cap off a memorable display in front of their home fans.
Ceres will finish their group stage campaign against Tampines Rovers on May 3 at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore. — CAL