Ceres-Negros FC scored its biggest after completing a 5-1 win over Stallion Laguna FC last June 28 at the Panaad Stadium. PFL debutant Fernando Rodriguez scored a late hat-trick with Bienvenido Maranon adding a brace for the home squad. Jess Melliza would score the lone goal for the visitors.
The Busmen started threatening early in the match led by Stephan Schrock who was testing the Stallion defense with dangerous balls in the box. It was the visitor who claimed the first try with a Jess Melliza that was calmly collected by roland Muller. Ceres would get a couple of chances when a sneaky free kick towards Ott saw the midfielder issuing a cross that bounced on Sadia and over the bar.
The Negros squad would pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a goal in the 18th minute. Junior Munoz would issue a quality cross to Maranon after beating his defender with the Spanish midfielder unmarked and wrong footing the keeper for the opening goal. Ceres almost made it 2-0 when Schrock evaded two defenders before unleashing a ball towards Rodriguez whose shot went wide.
The Laguna squad made it a game in the 27th minute when Melliza dispossessed Muller, who tried to fake the Stallion player, to scored the equalizer for the visiting team. It was an open game thereafter as both teams tried to race for a go ahead goal in the rain soaked match. It was in the 37th when Ceres would take the lead after a Martin Steuble cross bounced past Rodriguez but Maranon was there on the far end for a tap in.
The home squad would make it 3-1 a minute before halftime when an opportunistic strike from Rodriguez saw the back of the net. The ball bounced off two players before the Spaniard latched on the ball to give Ceres a comfortable lead. The action wasn’t done yet as Maranon controlled a Schrock pass into the box, faked his defender, before trying to chip the ball over Sadia who palmed the ball out from danger. The half would end with a 3-1 score in favor of the home team.
The second half saw a slow start from both teams until a 57th minute strike from Rodriguez saw Ceres padding up the lead. His inch perfect strike from the edge of the box bounced in the inside of the post before bouncing back to the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Manuel Ott would have his own attempt two minutes later when a well worked team possession saw the midfielders attempt going just a foot wide off the post.
Ceres still pushed for goals as twin efforts from Iain Ramsay and Rodriguez were blocked well by the Stallion defence. Both teams relaxed defensively in the final twenty minutes after half chances were produced in both ends of the pitch. It was the home side who had the better conversion when Rodriquez struck the ball to the roof of the net after chasing a ball that was on its way out. The Spanish striker completed his hat trick in his first appearance in the Philippines Football League. The match would end with a 5-1 score in favor of Ceres-Negros. The Busmen are now in 4th place in the standings with the win.
“I’m very happy to help the team to win the game,” said Rodriguez. “I feel a little bit heavy because (it was a) long time without (me) playing. The field also was not so easy to play (in) but (I’m) very happy for the victory,” added the Spanish forward who played his first PFL match after replacing Antonio Bello who had a serious muscle tear which prevented his participation in the last few months.
The two clubs will again meet on Saturday for another league match. Key players Christian Nana and Reynald Villareal will be back for Stallion in the next match to add stability to their backline. The match will kickoff at 4PM.
Photos from Stephen Tan and Owen Bayog