MANILA, Philippines – Meralco Manila maintained its perfect record in the Philippines Football League (PFL) with a 2-0 home victory over gritty Davao Aguilas last Saturday, while Ceres Negros edged Global Cebu, 1-0, in the thrilling first “Visayas Clasico” at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Curt Dizon and James Younghusband scored in each half as the Sparks rolled to a fourth consecutive victory at the Rizal Memorial Stadium just before the international break.
Dizon struck his second goal of the season in the sixth minute after Davao failed to clear a cross from Joaco Canas. Younghusband then slotted in Manila’s second after another moment of indecision from the Davao defense inside the box.
“Davao played well,” Meralco coach Aris Caslib said. “We were fortunate in the small moments of the game.”
Davao Aguilas coach Gary Phillips, meanwhile, admits his side remains a work in progress.
“We are missing that little quality,” Phillips said after his team dropped a third straight match. “We have young players who are still learning the game, but we need to learn more quickly.”
Meanwhile, leftback Jeffrey Christiaens scored the lone goal in the 83rd minute at Panaad, where midfield dynamo Stephan Schrock made an immediate impact in his return to Ceres by assisting on the match-winning goals.
The Busmen’s breakthrough win against their biggest rivals came just three days after their AFC Cup Asean zonals conquest of Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic took pride in his squad’s performance, particularly in their defense.
“It’s not easy to play these kinds of games, especially coming off an important match. Thankfully, my players were very professional, and I’m happy,” said Vidakovic, whose men now have four points from two matches.
The Busmen found Patrick Deyto tough to beat, with the Global goalkeeper denying Martin Steuble and Iain Ramsay with big saves in the first half. However, he could do little to stop Christiaens from scoring inside the six-yard box after the leftback was set up by Schrock’s cross.
“It’s nice to score, but the most important is the three points,” said Christiaens. “I’m just the lucky one to score. Schrocky did a great job. He put it perfect, right in front of the goal. I didn’t think – I just put it at the back of the net.”
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