DHAKA - Adrian Gallardo scored twice as Philippines champions Ceres La Salle earned their first-ever AFC Cup victory with a 2-0 victory against Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in the Group E encounter at Dhaka's Bangabandhu National Stadium last night.
The 28-year-old forward, who had scored a late equalizer in the Philippines side's 2-2 draw against Selangor FA on Feb. 23 at the Panaad Stadium, gave the visitors a 25th minute lead with a powerful left-footer before doubling the lead just four minutes later with a neat finish.
The win sees Ceres on four points from two matches while the Bangladesh Premier League champions languish at the bottom with no points.
After a shaky first few minutes, AFC Cup debutants Sheikh Jamal, who had suffered a 4-0 defeat away to Tampines Rovers on Matchday One, started seeing more of the ball, with three foreign recruits – Wedson Anselme, Emeka Darlington and Landing Darboe -- threatening the opposition defence with some darting runs from midfield.
But Gallardo wrestled back the initiative from the hosts striking from inside the box in the 25th minute. The 28-year-old Spaniard turned on his heel to collect Stephan Schrock's pass, and managed to find the left-hand corner of the net, despite goalkeeper Shahidul Alam getting a hand to the ball.
Gallardo then doubled the lead just four minutes later -- Schrock the provider yet again -- with a clinical finish past the diving Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper to put the visitors firmly into the box seat.
The hosts, however, had two chances late in the opening half to reduce the arrears. Landing saw his strike from 25 yards come off the right-hand post before Ceres goalkeeper Louie Casas produced a brilliant reflex keep to deny keep Landing's header on Wedson's cross off the goalline.
There were few chances in the opening phase of the second half but two opportunities came in quick succession at either end with 15 minutes to play.
Casas was in inspired form to thwarted Wedson's pointblank attempt while, at the other end, Bienvenido Maranon saw his attempt half-blocked by the Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper before it came off the right-hand post.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 76th minute, with centre-back Yeasin Khan picking up his second yellow card, but the visitors could not increase the lead any further.* the-afc.com