MANILA, Philippines - Ceres-La Salle conceded a late goal, allowing HTTU Asgabat of Turkmenistan to escape with a 2-1 win before a stunned crowd in the Asian Football Confederation President's Cup Group B qualifiers at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City last night.
The loss dealt a huge blow to Ceres-La Salle’s bid for a historic march to the President’s Cup final round in September as they ended group play with four points behind qualifier Asgabat’s seven.
Ceres, which could have advanced with a draw with Asgabat, now has to wait for the outcome of North Korean club Rimyongsu’s match against Tatung Company of Chinese Taipei being played late last night.
Rimyongsu had two points on 0-2-0 win-draw-loss as of press time and could finish ahead of Ceres with five points and get the second berth to the finale if they beat Tatung. A draw could still give Ceres a chance to move on, if it would have better goal scores versus Rimyonsgu in the end.
It was a heartbreaker for the reigning Phl club champions as they were actually holding on to the lead for a good majority of the match.
Azkal Carlie de Murga put the home club ahead with a strike from outside the box at the 19th minute as the stadium exploded in jubilation. Ceres held on to the one-goal lead until stoppage time in the first half, when Muhadov Suleymen sent it home to force a standoff.
The two sides fought on even terms through 90 minutes before Muhadov again struck at the fourth minute of injury time, delivering the dagger on the hearts of Ceres and their supoporters.