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 By Gabriel Tan

Tampines concede five as Ceres run riot in Philippines in AFC Cup

Tampines Rovers
Tampines Rovers lost 5-0 to Ceres in the Philippines on Tuesday night.

S.League giants Tampines Rovers suffered one of their worst-ever thrashings on Tuesday night after being handed a humbling 5-0 AFC Cup defeat by Ceres-Negros in the Philippines.

Falling behind inside the first minute courtesy of an Iain Ramsay strike at the Panaad Park and Stadium, the contest was effectively over by half-time. The hosts went into the break with a three-goal cushion after further goals by Bienvenido Maranon and Manny Ott.

There was, however, further humiliation for Tampines in the second half as Maranon and Fernando Rodriguez found the target to cap off a resounding victory for Ceres.

It was certainly a deserved win for the Busmen, who would have been expecting a far sterner test against a side looking to maintain their winning start in Group G.

Tampines could do little to prevent their opponents from taking the lead after just 32 seconds, courtesy of a brilliant strike by Ramsay.

Reacting quickest after Rodriguez had inadvertently touched the ball into his path, the Australian-born Filipino unleashed a stunning left-footed half-volley from all of 25 yards that swerved past a hapless Izwan Mahbud.

The Stags did have a couple of chances to respond from set pieces soon after, but both Fahrudin Mustafic and Daniel Bennett failed to capitalise on excellent deliveries by Yasir Hanapi.

Then, in the 24th minute, a rare error from the usually reliable Izwan saw him explicably race out of his box to deal with a high ball, despite Mustafic and Bennett both in close attention of Maranon.

In that brief moment of confusion, Maranon lifted the ball over the Stags custodian, and was left with the simple task of slotting into the unguarded net.

Tampines coach Jurgen Raab
Jurgen Raab's charges failed to rise to the occasion away from home.

Ceres were now firmly in control, but overturning the deficit was, by no means, mission impossible for an experienced Tampines' side.

Yet, seven minutes before the break, the task got even tougher when Ott was allowed to advance to the edge of the box too easily to send a superb dipping shot into the back of the net for his side's third.

With little to lose, Stags coach Jurgen Raab decided to change things up with a change in formation, and an attacking substitution even before the break, bringing on Raspreet Sandhu for Mustafic.

The switch did have the desired effect and Khairul Amri had a snapshot deflected wide right on the stroke of half-time, before another low shot into the 50th minute forced Roland Muller into a smart save.

Their best chance arrived eight minutes later when they hit the hosts on the break. Amri played a lovely ball into the path of Ryutaro Megumi, only for the Japanese to be denied one-on-one by Muller.

Nonetheless, the increase in personnel going forward for the visitors also left gaps at the back.

That was duly exploited by Ceres four minutes after the hour mark when a searching long ball by Ramsay found Maranon. He brought it down expertly into his stride before cheekily chipping Izwan for his second of the evening.

And, in the 72nd minute, the rout was complete when Ott was once more allowed to roam freely in the opposition half.

The Philippines international clipped an inch-perfect ball out left to Christiaens. He crossed first time into the six-yard box for Rodriguez to stab home, and complete a five-star performance by the Busmen.

It equaled the biggest win any Philippine team has ever recorded in the AFC Cup, although it was slightly tarnished by the sorry sight of Ceres captain Carli de Murga being stretchered off.

He had what appeared to be a serious knee injury, having previously been severely hampered by an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) problem.

Ceres-Negros: Roland Muller, Junior Munoz, Carli de Murga (Kota Kawase 86'), Manuel Herrera, Jeffrey Christiaens, Manny Ott (Jason de Jong 80'), Kevin Ingreso, OJ Porteria (Martin Steuble 74'), Bienvenido Maranon, Iain Ramsay, Fernando Rodriguez.

Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic (Raspreet Sandhu 44'), Daniel Bennett, Ismadi Mukhtar, Yasir Hanapi, Son Yong-chan, Irwan Shah, Ryutaro Megumi, Ivan Dzoni (Sahil Suhaimi 76'), Khairul Amri (Jamil Ali 73').

Gabriel Tan is a TV and radio pundit who writes for ESPN FC and The New Paper on Southeast Asian football. Twitter: @gabetan13.

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