Ceres-Negros overcame a late Kaya fightback and clinched its first Copa Paulino Alcantara trophy last November 16, 2019 at the Binan Football Stadium in Laguna. Robert Lopez Mendy and Tristan Kit Robles scored for the busmen while Kenshiro Daniels added another for the Iloilo squad.
It was the league champions who found the back of the net in the fourth minute but Lopez Mendy’s goal was disallowed after the assistant referee found him to be offside.
Both teams were tentative leaving the action to be limited at the middle of the pitch. The first clear shot came from Ceres-Negros in the 20th minute with Lopez Mendy’s long heave that went straight to the keeper.
Kaya Iloilo had a golden chance in the 28th minute when Jovin Bedic broke to offside trap to set one-on-one but Roland Muller came out to with the key block to keep the score level.
The Busmen broke the ice in the half hour mark when James Younghusband broke the trap and found a trailing Lopez Mendy to make it 1-0.
The defending champions tried to hit back immediately but Jayson Panhays try a minute later went wide. The Iloilo squad had twin chances from counters the Panhays attempt was saved by Muller while Dennis Villanueva broke a through pass after being alone against two attackers.
Jordan Mintah had the final chance in the 41st minute but his chance off a counter curled wide. Ceres-Negros went to the break with the slim 1-0 lead.
The Negros squad had the best chances early in the second half but Dylan De Bruycker shot over while James Younghusband’s shot after a good run was blocked by Casas.
Kaya Iloilo hit the post in the 68th minute but Ceres-Negros immediately broke away for the counter. Robert Lopez Mendy worked his way on the wings and into the box. He lost the ball in the end of the run but Robles was there to hit the free ball and into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.
Lopez Mendy almost made it three when danced his way into the box but the ball went straight to Casas. Kaya came up with a chance in the 77th when Arnie Pasinabo sent a cross to Tacagni who headed well and forced Muller into a full stretch.
Daniels came close for Iloilo when his free kick was tapped into the woodwork by Muller. The ball bounced in front but Odawara came in for the clearance. The ensuing play saw Muller save a Bedic shot that was on its way to the goal but was cleared again by the defense.
They were eventually rewarded in the 85th when Daniels was free from outside the box to make it close in the 85th minute. The 2018 champs had another chance in the 87th when as shot was tapped by Muller before it hit the woodwork again but Masa Omura couldn’t secure the tap in after another save from Muller.
The referee raised declared four minutes of added time and Kaya came to push for an equalizer but Ceres didn’t allow any. The Busmen almost made three but the setup by Lopez Mendy to Angelo Marasigan was blocked.
The referee blew the whistle after five minutes and it secured the first domestic double by Ceres-Negros.
Robert Lopez Mendy was declared the Golden Boot with five goals while Roland Muller was given the Golden Glove for being the best keeper in the Final. Takashi Odawara was given the Golden Ball after being the best player for Ceres-Negros for the entire tournament.
Ceres-Negros completed the Final win with only fourteen players available after injuries and the FIFA International break prevented them from having a complete lineup.
The Busmen also completed an unlikely undefeated run where they only lost points in four draws for the the combined league and cup season.
All photos from Philippines Football League