Ceres Negros FC bowed down to a relentless FC Istiklol, 0-4, in the first leg of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Inter-zone semifinals match on Tuesday night at the Hisor Central Stadium in Tajikistan.
The Yellow Busmen conceded two goals in opposite halves, leaving them a mountain to climb in the second leg on September 12 at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
Ceres simply could not penetrate the defense and foil the sharp offense of the Central Asian zone champions.
The Filipino club only mustered five shots (one on-target) all in the second half compared to the Tajik titlists’ 18 shots (six on-target) throughout the game.
Kota Kawase was whistled for a rough challenge on Istiklol’s Dmitri Barkov in the penalty box then Akhtam Nazarov made no mistake from the spot to open up the scoring in the 25th minute.
The Crowns managed to press high on the pitch until Romish Dzalilov launched a curling shot past goalkeepeer Roland Muller for a comfortable 2-0 lead at halftime.
Sensing urgency after the restart, the Negrenses started to display their offense with Bienvenido Marañon coming up with two attempts and the team earning two corner kicks but the home side was prepared to fend off every attack.
Manuchekhr Dzhalilov fired his first goal and Istiklol’s third in the 67th as the top striker kicked a loose ball toward the back of the net.
Two minutes before time, Dzhalilov completed a brace to seal the romp amid the wild roars of 13,800 spectators.