Ceres Negros FC ended its remarkable run in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup after settling for a 1-1 draw in the second leg of the Interzone semifinals and surrendering a 1-5 result on aggregate to FC Istiklol on Tuesday night at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Yellow Busmen were not able to weave their football magic on their home turf despite having more shots and on-target attempts compared to the first leg, where they fell to a 0-4 hole.
Faced with a daunting task, Ceres Negros pumped up its offense early and got rewarded when Manuel Herrera headed home a corner kick by Manny Ott in the 34th minute.
However, Istiklol was quick to halt the home side’s momentum as Dmitri Barkov fired from the right flank to equalize deep in first half stoppage time.
The Negrenses continued to fight in the second half but the Tajik club was determined to advance to the next round, keeping the levelled scoreline and its huge aggregate lead until the finish.
With the win, the Crowns entered the penultimate phase where they will battle the winner of the other semifinals tie pitting Bengaluru FC of India and 4.25 SC of North Korea.
Ceres enjoyed a historic run in the annual tournament as the Visayan squad became the first Filipino club to hoist the Asean zone trophy.
The Busmen ousted 2015 champion Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia in the zonal semifinals before beating Home United FC of Singapore in the title match.