Negros frustrated by Home as first leg ends even

Junior Muñoz and Shahril Ishak jostle with the ball as Ceres Negros and Home United battled into a first leg standoff. AFC
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--Ceres Negros were off-target in the second half as they missed a plethora of chances as the first leg of the ASEAN zone final of the AFC Cup ended in a 1-1 stalemate against Singapore's Home United on Wednesday night in Bacolod's Panaad.

It was a pair of A-League veterans that did the job in putting the ball into the net as Blake Powell's spot kick early in the match was cancelled out by Isaka Cernak as an exciting mood in the first half was turned into almost a snooze-fest at the restart, with a couple of close calls almost waking the 6,705 strong Bacolod crowd into its nap.

The absence of Bienvenido Marañon affected the creativity of the Busmen despite taking more of the ball and shots as the five-man midfield of the Protectors looked like a back five of any defensive-minded squads.

Powell left Rudy Khairullah rooted to his place when he tucked his penalty to the bottom right corner just eight minutes into the match after the former Central Coast Mariner had to be pulled down by Shakir Hamzah into the box.

But 15 minutes later, the former Olyroo made sure to tap the ball into the net after Shahril Ishak's header from Izzdin Shafiq's corner arguably crossed the line after it hit the bar, giving the Protectors a vital away goal to bring back in the Lion City in a return fixture next week.

Ishak then caught Negros' defence napping midway into the second half but Toni Doblas was there to made the stop.

However, the best drama was saved in added time, when Hafiz Nor hit the right side netting, and substitute Stephan Schrock had his last-ditch shot in the rain blocked by Rudy as Kim Woo-Sung blew the full time whistle.

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