Playing away from home, Ceres-Negros fought with all its might on Wednesday night.
It yielded the second leg at Thuwunna Stadium to Yangon United, 3-2, but won their semifinal tie on aggregate, 6-5, to bolster its title-retention bid in the AFC Cup ASEAN zone.
The Busmen moved ahead, 2-1, but the Burmese side, egged on by nearly 2,500 fans, battled back after the break that saw tempers flare.
But their second trip to the finals may prove costly for Ceres-Negros as top scorer Bienvenido Maranon will miss the first leg of the final against Singapore’s Home United.
Maranon got sent off sent off after Korean referee Ko Hyung-jin deemed his post-goal celebration as taunting.
The incident involving Maranon triggered a melee in the 78th minute with Ceres up, 2-1, that spurred the home side to salvage a virtual lost game and give the Filipinos some nervous moments.
The Burmese side fell short, as the Busmen banked on their 4-2 win last week at Panaad Stadium and midfielder Manny Ott’s equalizer in the ninth minute provided the cushion for Yangon’s onslaught.
Yangon United, the Myanmar League pacesetter, got off hot when Kosuke Yamaazaki scored in the second minute and cut the aggregate deficit, 4-3.
Ott then combined with Stephan Schrock to pull Ceres level, before Maranon pushed the Busmen in front with a goal 12 minutes from time.
An ecstatic Maranon jubilated in front of Yangon defender Thein Zaw, prompting other Burmese players to confront him.
Turning ferocious, the Burmese side pounced on the Busmen, who were down to 10 men, and equalized, 2-2, behind Aee Soe’s close range strike in the 83rd minute.
Yangon then provided tense moments for Ceres-Negros after a Sekou Sylla penalty off a handball on Carlie De Murga in the 87th minute put the Burmese side ahead, 3-2.
The Busmen didn’t crumble, however, as Martin Steuble defended well while goalkeeper Toni Doblas secured his post.
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