Ceres-La Salle falls short of AFC President's Cup Finals berth
By Karlo Sacamos
CERES-LA SALLE fell short of a breakthrough finals berth in the Asian Football Confederation President's Cup after bowing to Turkmenistan's HTTU Asgabat, 1-2, on Saturday at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The reigning national club champions squandered an early lead as it surrendered goals in stoppage time in each half en route to the heartbreaking outcome.
But it was North Korea' Rimyongsu's 5-0 hammering of Tatung of Chinese Taipei in the second game that sealed the Philippine representative's sad fate.
Only needing a draw to advance, Ceres solidified its chances when AFC Challenge Cup-bound Azkal Carli de Murga struck just outside the penalty box to give the Bacolod-based side the lead 19 minutes into the game.
But Muhadov Suleyman found the back of the net in first-half stoppage time to equalize.
After hanging tough for most of the second half, Ceres surrendered a goal to the formidable Turkmen side in extra time once again.
Rimyongsu quashed whatever was left of Ceres' hopes with the rout against the Taiwanese side.
Asgabat and Rimyongsu thus clinched the two berths after finishing first and second with seven and five points, respectively, while Ceres wound up in third spot with four markers.