Ceres-Negros FC came back from a goal down in the first half to finish with 2-1 a victory over the Philippine Azkals U22 last October 30 at the Binan Football Stadium.
SEA Games hopeful Dylan De Bruycker and Robert Lopez Mendy scored the goals for the busmen while Yrik Gallantes added one for the Philippine squad.
It was the SEAG team that threatened the earliest when Gallantes found Chima Uzoka for a header but the striker just headed over the top corner.
Both teams couldn’t seem to get a chance in the final third in the first half hour but the Azkals went ahead with their persistence. Gallantes broke free from his marker and unleashed a shot that was blocked by Ron Bayan but he rebounded for the opener.
OJ Porteria almost got a equalizer just minutes later with a shot from a narrow angle but Anthony Pinthus came up with the fine save. Lopez Mendy connected to Porteria pass in the 38th but his final chance off an overhead kick was off target.
Jarvey Gayoso had a good chance from point plank in the 45th minute but Bayan blocked well. A mad scramble happened after but the Busmen managed to clear the danger.
A final chance came to Porteria in injury time but his shot was deflected wide. The U22 squad came to the break with a slim 1-0 lead.
The start to the second half was tense as both teams became increasingly physical in the early salvo. Super and Gallantes were given yellow cards after frustration was evident from both ends.
Angelo Marasigan came close with a long distance attempt but the ball curled just wide of the post. Ceres-Negros finally found the back of the net in the 61st minute saw De Brucycker shooting past Pinthus to make it 1-1.
A through ball towards space from Mike Ott was recieved by De Bruycker who made no mistake against his U22 peers.
Ceres-Negros continued in piling the pressure as chances from Ott, Lopez Mendy, and Super were good but not enough to find the back of the net.
Mike Ott teamed up with substitute James Younghusband for a one-two but Ott’s left footer skipped wide of the target. Lopez Mendy was taken down in the box but play continued in the 76th as Porteria crossed the ball forward to Younghusband who was just a yard off an easy tap-in.
The Busmen were finally rewarded for their persistence when Lopez Mendy headed in a Marasigan cross to make it 201 in the 86th. The U22 squad had a good chance to equalize in the 88th but Gayoso’s free kick went straight to Bayan.
The league champions came close with adding another in the final minutes but Porteria’s two attempts were saved by the keeper. He had one final chance off a give-and-go from Ott in the 2nd minute of injury time but it eventually went wide. The match would finish with the Busmen getting their first win in the cup.
Ceres-Negros are now in first place of Group A with four points tied with Mendiola who scored a 1-0 victory to eliminate Green Archers from cup contention. The Azkals U22 dropped to third after the loss.
The Busmen will host the Archers on November 6 at the Aboitiz Pitch while Mendiola and Azkals U22 will play simultaneously in Binan to determine the semifinalists for Group A.
All photos from PFL