Group G – MD2: Ceres Negros FC 2-2 Than Quang Ninh
Manila: Nguyen Hai Huy struck 20 minutes from time to earn Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh their first point of the 2020 AFC Cup on Tuesday as Thanh Hung Phan’s side sealed a 2-2 draw with home side Ceres Negros FC at Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Hai Huy netted eight minutes after OJ Porteria had given Ceres the lead for the first time as Bienvenido Maranon’s penalty at the end of the first half had cancelled out Jeremie Lynch’s opener for the visitors.
Risto Vidakovic’s side now sit on top of Group G with four points from their first two games, one point more than second-placed duo Bali United of Indonesia and Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng from Cambodia.
The draw earned Than Quang Ninh their first point of the competition having lost heavily to Bali United in their tournament opener on Matchday One, and it was the Vietnamese who took the lead in Manila.
Lynch had earlier gone closest to opening the scoring when he headed Quach Tan Giang Tran’s corner from the left harmlessly wide, but he was to make no mistake when presented with another opportunity to put his side in front.
Hai Huy surged through the Ceres midfield before playing a perfect ball through behind the home defence for Lynch to chase and, with Roland Muller attempting to close down the Jamaican, the 28-year-old sidestepped the home keeper before rolling the ball home.
Duong Thanh Hao was forced to head Stephan Schrock’s free-kick over his own bar as Ceres sought the equaliser, which eventually came three minutes into first-half stoppage time when Maranon stroked his penalty down the middle of Huynh Tuan Linh’s goal.
The spot-kick was awarded after Maranon had seen Tuan Linh keep out his initial effort before picking up possession again from the rebound and drive into the area, only to be illegally upended by Hai Huy.
With Ceres dominating the opening exchanges of the second half, Manny Ott should have given the home side the lead in the 61st minute when Maranon found the midfielder with time and space to pick his spot, only for Ott to smash his shot off the crossbar.
A minute later, however, Ceres went in front when Porteria was released behind the Than Quang Ninh backline and he made no mistake with his finish, sliding it beyond Tuan Linh.
But Hai Huy salvaged a point for his side in the 70th minute when he hit his right foot effort beyond Muller after the Ceres defence was unable to wrestle possession from Mac Hong Quan and the hosts held out to claim a deserved draw.
Than Quang Ninh face Svay Rieng on March 11 while Ceres Negros will play Bali United.