Five-star Ceres-La Salle, Kaya FC seal place in AFC Cup knockout stage
Adrian Gallardo scored a hat-trick and assist for Ceres-La Salle. Jaime Campos

CERES-La Salle and Kaya FC formalized their respective entries to the Asian Football Confederation Cup knockout stage following contrasting results on Tuesday night.

Ceres, already bound for the playoffs, shut out Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi, 5-0, at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod to claim the top spot in Group E and secure home-field advantage in the Round of 16.

Kaya, on the other hand, settled for a scoreless draw against New Radiant in the opponent’s turf in Maldives, enough to finish second in Group F and join Ceres to become the second Philippine team in the knockout stage.

Adrian Gallardo registered a hat-trick and an assist, while fellow Spanish standout Bien Marañon and Azkals star Patrick Reichelt added a goal apiece for Ceres.

Kaya failed to find the back of the net, but benefited from Kitchee blanking Balestier Khalsa, 4-0, in a match played simultaneously that kept the loser in third spot, two points behind Kaya.

A daunting task, though, awaits Kaya in the Round of 16 where the former UFL Cup champion faces AFC Cup defending champion Johor Darul Tazim on May 25, before Ceres hosts a still-undetermined foe the next day.

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