By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

FRESH from its conquest of the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final last week, Ceres-Negros FC continued to roll in its Philippines Football League (PFL) return at the weekend, beating Kaya FC-Makati, 3-2, in their fixture on Saturday at the University of Makati Stadium.

ASEAN champion Ceres continues to roll at PFL
AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal champion Ceres-Negros FC beat Kaya FC-Makati, 3-2, in its PFL return on Saturday. — CERES-NEGROS FC WEB SITE/PAULA ANDREA MARIE PURI/PFLrts

Goals from Omid Nazari, Arnie Pasinabo, Jr. and Bienvenido Marañon did it for “The Busmen” as they improved to eight wins, one draw and two losses and 25 points in 11 games to date in the first season of the country’s national football league.

Host Kaya started strong in the contest but as it wore on Ceres got its footing firmer and made its move.

Ceres scored first in 19th minute when Mr. Nazari connected on a clean low shot to give his team the 1-0 edge.

It was a lead the Bacolod-based team would carry all the way to the halftime break but not after the engagement saw some chippy moments along the way.

Ceres was once again first on the scoreboard in the second half as Mr. Pasinabo found the bottom of the net from outside the box in the 50th minute for a 2-0 advantage.

A minute later though Kaya would respond behind Robert Mendy, who turned a saved play by Ceres into a goal when he fired one in to cut their deficit to 2-1.

Ceres created further distance anew in the 63rd minute care of Mr. Maranon, who took cue from the creative play of teammate Fernando Rodriguez to tap in the team’s third goal.

Kaya tried to find ways to claw its way back. But it could only muster one point the rest of the way, off a Jordan Mintah goal inside stoppage time, for the final score.

Having come out triumphant in a rough and tough game, Ceres coach Risto Vidacovic was satisfied with the win but he did not mince words on the officiating which he felt lost control in said game.

“I think we deserve the victory because we played better, we tried to play football all the time. I think the first foul was a clear red card so I don’t know what’s going on here. It’s very dangerous already but I don’t like to talk about them (referees) because they are part of football. Somebody has to protect the players. If nobody protects them, one day something very, very serious will happen,” said Mr. Vidakovic in the post-match press conference.

Mr. Nazari, who started the scoring for Ceres, was named man of the match.

“I think we deserve it (the win). We tried to play football even though it’s hard to play here. Luckily we won this game,” said Mr. Nazari after the game.

Despite the loss, Kaya (8-3-5) still remains in the top three in the PFL standings, as of this writing, at third with 27 points, behind league-leading FC Meralco Manila (10-3-2) with 33 points and second-running Global Cebu FC (8-4-2) with 28 points.

Ceres returns to the field on Wednesday against Meralco at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium while Kaya also plays on the same day versus JPV Marikina FC (6-1-6).