THE Philippines Football League made a return to the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa City, Batangas, on Saturday with Stallion Laguna FC and Ceres-Negros FC emerging as winners.
The Stallions defeated Global Cebu FC, 4-1, while league-leading Ceres survived a gallant stand by Mendiola FC 1991 to emerge on top, 5-2.
It was a quick start for the Laguna team that saw Fitch Arboleda puncture the first goal of the match in the ninth minute.
Teammate Ruben Doctora then made it a 2-0 lead four minutes later.
Global was undeterred and kept coming back, eventually rewarded in the 45th minute when Charlie Beaton found the bottom of the net to narrow the gap at 2-1.
But before the first-half horn sounded, the Stallions managed to score another point in the added two minutes care of Abou Sy to make it a 3-1 count at halftime.
With firm control of the match, the Stallions made a quick kill at the start of the second half, with Jhan-Jhan Melliza making it a three-point separation for his team with a goal in the 63rd minute off a penalty kick.
Global could not recover from the hole and saw Stallion ran away with the win after.
The victory gave Stallion (6-3-2) the full three points and pushed it to 21 points, just a point down from second-running Kaya FC-Iloilo (7-1-2).
Global (1-0-8), for its part, slumped to its fourth straight defeat and continues to tailend with just three points to show for to date in the seven-team league.
Meanwhile earlier in the day, defending league champion Ceres continued to roll, topping Mendiola.
Newly acquired Robert Mendy scored four goals for his new team, three of which — 16’, 36’ and 33’ — coming in the first half to help Ceres to a 3-1 lead at the break.
Mendiola struck early in the second half to narrow the gap, 3-2, in the 49th minute on an Ash Flores goal.
But Mr. Mendy was quick to steady the ship for his team, scoring his fourth goal of the day in the 55th minute to make it a 4-2 count.
The two teams swung back-and-forth after before Bienvenido Maranon made it a 5-2 lead in the 90th minute of the match that put the game away for Ceres.
Ceres (9-1-0), with the win, is safely on top of the perch with 28 points while Mendiola dropped to a record of 3-1-7 with 10 points.
Later on Sunday, Kaya was to play Philippine Air Force FC at the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo