CERES Negros F.C. ended a run of winless matches in the 2017 AFC Cup with a resounding 6-2 home victory over 10-man Hanoi on Tuesday night at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Not even a punching incident in the 61st minute could overshadow the Busmen's emphatic win after looking dead in the water following two uninspiring performances in their home-away fixture against Felda.
The win pushed Ceres back to the top of Group G with eight points in a tie with its Vietnamese foes, but the four-goal difference in this game could prove critical in the final reckoning.
Save for a goal fest in Hanoi's match against Felda, a win for Ceres in its last game in the group stage against Tampines Rovers would assure it of a zonal semifinal slot.
The match will be on May 3 at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
A second-half brace from Fernando Rodrigues sparked the breakaway for the home team, right at the time when the visiting side looked to have regained traction.
Bienve Maranon and Kevin Ingreso opened things up for the Busmen as they found the net in the 13th and 21st minute but Pham Thang Loung pulled one back for the Vietnamese side in the 25 minute with a well-taken free kick.
With Ceres leading by just one, Rodrigues scored his first goal of the night as he sent his ball right above the Vietnamese 'keeper in the 54th minute.
Things got heated eight minutes later as Hanoi substitute Hoang Vu Samson and Ceres defender Kota Kawase got into it.
A punch was thrown by Hoang, leading to a straight red card for the substitute and a one-man advantage for the hosts.
The Busmen worked that advantage to the fullest as Rodrigues struck again in the 69th minute off a perfect build-up, much to the delight of Ilongo fans in attendance.
A penalty kick from Do Hung Dung in the 86th minute pulled Hanoi back to two goals but substitite Jason de Jong and Maranon wrapped things up with much-needed goals to end the game.