Ceres-Negros FC completed its mastery of Philippine Air Force FC with a 7-0 win in their final league meeting last September 14 at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa.
Robert Lopez Mendy scored a late hat trick while Bienvenido Maranon, OJ Porteria, Mike Ott, and Dennis Villanueva added one apiece for the busmen.
The Airmen proved steady in the first half hour after they held Ceres-Negros at bay in the first half hour to keep the match scoreless. Lopez Mendy had the earliest chance in the 4th but his snapshot attempt goes wide.
Dylan De Bruycker followed up with his own chance a minute later. The Busmen had difficulty getting into gear after a long layoff and it took them a while to get into motion.
It was Maranon who broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute after he place in a perfect header of a corner for the go ahead goal. Porteria doubled it minutes later after he latched into a free ball in the box before he smashed it to the top corner.
Lopez Mendy joined the scoring in the 40th minute after he lifted a throughball past the onrushing keeper to make it 3-0. The Negros squad maintained the cushion into the halftime break.
The defending champs piled the pressure at the start of the second half which saw an early strike from Mike Ott that forced the keeper into a fine save. Takashi Odawara hit the crossbar in the 54th minute but successive chances off the rebound were saved on the line.
Ott would line up another minutes later but the keeper was forced to heroics once again. Porteria teed up Lopez Mendy in the hour mark but the Senegalese chance was found begging.
The Airmen turned physical midway into the half but the Busmen were relentless leading to many misses in the box. It was in the 73rd when Porteria was clipped in the box but the action played on with Lopez Mendy shooting his second of the match.
The Ceres striker would complete his hat trick minutes later after he broke free from the defensive line in the 75th minute. The two-time champions increased the pressure with the Airmen fading in the end which resulted to Ott scoring the sixth goal nine minutes from time.
Substitute Neckson Leonora was shown a straight red after sending a dangerous tackle to OJ Porteria. The Busmen continued piling in the pressure and found the back of the net again with Villanueva scoring his debut goal for the busmen.
The referee blew the final whistle with Ceres-Negros taking full three points in their fourth match against Air Force.
“It’s not easy to play after the long break,” said Ceres-Negros Coach Risto Vidakovic. “Its normal that we start slow in the beginning but later it was a very easy game after the fifth goal. Its always difficult to switch on the competitive level but we always tried to play the way we did.”
Man of the match Robert Lopez Mendy echoed his coaches thoughts and was happy with the result of the match.
“Like what coach said, it’s hard to play after a long break. At the beginning, it was too slow but after a while we started getting our chances and that what made the game easier at the end.”
Ceres-Negros extended it six point lead at the top and will next face second ranked Kaya FC on September 18 at the Binan Stadium.