MANILA, Philippines - Defending national champs Ceres-La Salle FC escaped the late game wrath of Kaya FC, 3-2, to kick off the final group stage of the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championship at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Thursday, January 22.
The two clubs exchanged blows in the opening minutes of the match as both were eager to tuck in the a game day win for their proud colors.
Hungry to defend their crown, Ceres FC's offense went full throttle resulting into a goal by Nate Burkey from the far left in the 32nd minute to give the champs a 1-0 lead early in the first half.
In an effort to retaliate and even the scoreline, Kaya scrambled their jets lead by high scoring Louis Clark in plight of tallying a goal but no more goals were sank going into the half.
A determined Ceres FC came out of the locker room after the break as Angelo Marasigan double their lead to 2-0 after intercepting a weak pass from the backline of their foes.
The match continued with Ceres FC's relentless attacks on the tiring defense of Kaya FC, with the latter sending several outbursts of their own but the Bacolod-based team took the better end of the exchange.
It was a busy night for Kaya's goalkeeper Nick O'Donnell as another goal was sank by Burkey to further extend the lead of Ceres to 3-0.
As the time expired for the meeting of the two UFL division 1 clubs, Kaya FC's frontline finally found their rhythm as Jovin Bedic scored two consecutive goals to cut the lead to just a solitary goal, 3-2.
The late game blitz of Kaya FC proved to be too weak as the defense of Ceres prevented them from salvaging a draw.
Meanwhile, the Loyola Meralco Sparks FC outmatched Laos FC, 4-0, to tally a win of their own in Group A. -