Late Hariss winner gives Home slender lead in AFC Cup
The Protectors will now go to Panaad Stadium, Bacolod, next week to play the second leg with a one-goal lead.
The Protectors began brightly and took only 11 minutes to make it 1-0. Stipe Plazibat was hauled down by Carlos De Murga in the box and the striker duly converted the resulting spot-kick.
The hosts then carved out another two good chances, but they failed to make them count.
The winner finally came in the 83rd minute, when Hariss managed to bundle the rebound home
First, Izzdin Shafiq’s corner was met by Hariss Harun, who flicked the ball towards Adam Swandi. While the youngster managed to get a good connection with the ball, he could only head onto the bar in the 21st minute.
Moments later, Aqhari Abdullah sent a splendid diagonal ball towards Khairul Nizam, who brought the ball down delicately before unleashing a volley at goal. However, Roland Muller was on hand to punch the ball away.
Home’s failure to put those chances away allowed Ceres to regroup and the visitors began to dominate the game.
The Filipino side then managed to put the ball in the net twice, but their efforts were chalked off after the linesman flagged for offside on both occasions.
Just when it seemed Home had done enough to take their slender lead into the break, the visitors were gifted an equaliser.
Martin Steuble’s speculative 35-yard shot was headed towards Hassan Sunny, but the goalkeeper allowed the ball to squirm through his hands just before referee brought an end to the half.
After the break, Home tried to retake the lead, but they once again found the woodwork in their path in the 55th minute, with Nizam’s header off a Sirina Camara cross hitting the post.
Hassan then came to his side’s rescue on the hour mark, tipping over Kevin Ingreso’s 25-yard free-kick.
Four minutes later, his counterpart Muller had to do the same to tip behind Nizam’s header.
The winner finally came in the 83rd minute, when Hariss met Faris Ramli’s inswinging free-kick at the far post. Although Muller got to the midfielder’s initial effort, Hariss managed to bundle the rebound home.
There was chance for another Home goal in the dying embers of the game, as Home went on the break and Faris managed to play Nizam through. However, Muller managed to deny the striker at the near post.