BACOLOD CITY – Ceres-Negros turned on the style to deal FC Meralco Manila a 6-0 beating last Sunday night to move within three points off the Philippines Football League lead at Panaad Stadium.
Fernando Rodriguez delivered a hattrick for the second straight game, Bienvenido Marañon struck twice and Carlie De Murga also found the back of the net as Ceres went into the international break on a positive note.
The Busmen produced another ruthless attacking display on the day the province celebrated its 119th Negros day. The club had its own unique contribution to the celebration, raining goals on the PFL’s current leader.
The win puts Ceres at 51 points from 23 matches, three points behind leader Meralco, which has played three more matches. The Busmen also got some payback of sorts against the only team that beat them at home this season.
“I think we played well, especially the first half,” said coach Risto Vidakovic. “We played with high intensity and if we play with high intensity, the result is usually very good.”
The Sparks got two early chances when Curt Dizon tested Roland Muller, before Milan Nikolic sent a header from Tyler Matas’ throw in to the crossbar in the 20th minute.
Two minutes later, Marañon broke the deadlock with a long range effort past Sparks keeper Ace Villanueva. The second goal came five minutes later when De Murga redirected OJ Porteria’s effort from close range.
But the Busmen were far from done. Rodriguez opened his account with a strike from inside the box after Meralco failed to deal with Iain Ramsay’s cross from the left.It was 4-0 in the 36th minute as Rodriguez smashed the ball home after the Sparks were unable to clear a cross from Porteria.
The Busmen picked up from where they left off in the first half with Rodriguez netting his hat trick in the 54th minute after he was set up by Ramsay who kept Porteria’s cross in play.
Marañon capped the scoring with an elegant chip past the Meralco defense.
Meralco coach Aris Caslib praised the home side for its performance.
“I thought Ceres played well tonight,” said Caslib. “They were able on second balls and I think its the type of goals they scored in the AFC Cup so hats off to them.”
Caslib added: “When we came here tonight, we never expected a 6-nil scoreline but we learned our lesson and these are the things that will make us better.”
Marañon thinks these types of performances from the Busmen augur well in their bid to claim the PFL title.
“I think we play with much intensity and we feel so happy playing at home,” said Maranon. “If we treat the finals series with this intensity, we don’t see any reason we can’t win.”