Adrian saves the day as Ceres opens AFC Cup with draw

By Kevin Estrada

BACOLOD--Ceres needed some clutch magic from Adrian Gallardo three minutes to full time to nick a precious point against Malaysian giants Selangor, 2-2, to open their AFC Cup quest at the Panaad Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Spaniard's header in the 87th minute saved the blushes of Ali Go and Frank Muescan as the Busmen fell behind in the second half by the visiting Red Giants due to goals by Mauro Olivi and Hafiz Kamal that negated the 18th minute strike of Stephan Schröck to share honors and a logjam at second in Group E, in which S-League's Tampines Rovers ran away with a 4-0 rout of Bangladesh's Sheikh Jamal and the outright group lead in the other match.

Ceres dominated every aspect of the match, in which the club had more shots and more corners than the visiting squad.

The 21 fouls that lead to five yellow cards for both sides showed the physical nature in which both clubs aimed for nothing less than three points.

The reigning UFL titlist showed its firepower right away from the opening whistle as the team pressured the guest with their counterattacks.

That pressing and counterattacking of Ceres bore fruit three minutes later, as Schrock drew first blood on his left-footed curler that went past Norazlan Razali in the middle left corner.

Selangor equalized eleven minutes before halftime with the Argentinian caught an indecisive Louie Casas by surprise and blocked his clearance which trickled into the net.

The seven-time Malaysian league champions sucked the life out of the hallowed Negrense ground at the hour mark.

Former Pahang midfielder Hafiz Kamal shoved Selangor ahead with a gorgeous free kick that went out of Casas' reach and into the net, sending the visiting UltraSel Curva into deserved celebration.

Selangor tried to put the match away on both ways, but the club's shots went just wide of the post..

Ceres' relentlessness finally produced a deserved goal three minutes from full time.

Out of a counterattack, Schröck's cross found Adrian, who headed it home off the post and into the net to send 8,000 fans into raucous joy to earn a valuable point that looked like a win for them.

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