After two years of draws and losses, Ceres-La Salle finally exorcised their Global ghost by crushing the recently crowned league champions 5-0 last October 16 at the Rizal Stadium. Adrian Gallardo topscored with a brace with three other players scoring a goal each.
The Bacolod squad came in the match with the desire to win as a loss would derail the goal of getting the AFC Cup spot which awarded to number two team in the league. It was Ceres who started to threaten early in the 8th minute when Stephan Schrock’s shot from past the half-line beat Global keeper Patrick Deyto but unluckily bounced against the crossbar. The Busmen were controlling the match early on but the Global defense were behind the ball. Bienvenido Maranon and Galalrdo would carve their own chances in the first half hour.
Global then started to get more of the ball which resulted to Hikaru Minigeshi getting a free header in the 30th minute which forced Michael Casas to tap it away for safety. The Busmen would open the scoring eight minutes after when Schrock’s corner was headed by Carli de Murga towards Gallaardo who then chested it down and blasted it to the roof of the net. Jeffrey Christaens would double the lead in the 43rd minute when his deep cross had enough english to go past Deyto and into the goal. In injury time, Global’s Arthur Kouassi was sent off after getting his second yellow card due to a bad challenge on de Murga.
Ceres didnt waste time after the restart after Orman Okunaiya tapped in a well-worked cross by Gallardo to push the lead to 3-0 after 48 minutes. They took control of the possession producing good shots from Ott and Gallardo but Deyto was there to produce great saves. Global would have a chance of their own in the hour mark when Minigeshi tried to bend one from outside the box but Casas was there to easily collect.
Global would maintain their defensive effort with Ceres finding it difficult to break through. In the 80th minute, Christaens ran half the field in a counter and crossed to ball to Bienvenido Maranon who made no mistake and pushed the scoreline to 4-0. The 2016 champions tried from the restart to pull a goal back when Minigeshi run lead to a Matt Hartmann shot from the edge of the box that went wide. Moments later it was Christaens again who darted into the left flank, cutting inside and rifling a right footed shot into goal. Deyto tipped the ball up but still rolled towards goal and was tapped in by Gallardo. The Spanish player was however called for offside.
Ceres-La Salle would still push in the dying minutes with Maranon lofting the ball ahead to de Murga, who controlled the ball once and issued a powerful volley which was tapped out by Deyto. The busmen would complete the route when a broken play allowed Marwin Angels to beautifully flicked the ball to Gallardo to smash in the fifth and final goal for Ceres.
“The game was very important for us so the key was defending good, we told (them) before the game, and the guys I think they did very well. So in the second half it was very difficult to speak about the game because they were a man less so the game was over when they received the red card,” said Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic. “We must win the next game also because its the most important game right now for us and we have one week to prepare (for) it. I hope that we will play like today,” he added.
The win by Ceres has narrowed down the race for second place between them and Loyola Meralco. The Sparks will play Stallion on Saturday and a draw or a loss will automatically put Ceres in second place. Should Loyola win, Ceres will need to beat JP Voltes on Sunday to return to the AFC Cup.