Ceres Negros FC netted a goal in opposite halves as it gunned down Davao Aguilas FC, 2-0, to snatch the third spot in the Philippines Football League (PFL) on Saturday night at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
OJ Porteria scored midway the first half and Stephan Shrock struck a few minutes after the restart as the Yellow Busmen hiked their tally to 22 points and edged out rival Global Cebu FC in goal difference to sneak into No. 3.
Ceres Negros head coach Risto Vidakovic commended his men’s performance in the “hardest game that we had here at home.”
“Congratulations to my players. They insisted for ninety minutes and they had patience,” said the Serbian mentor, whose club extended its winning streak to three.
“It’s not easy to play against one team that is defending with ten players in front of the goal, especially when they know how to defend,” he added.
Despite key additions in former Global Cebu midfielder Matthew Hartmann and 6-foot-5 Australian striker Harrison Sawyer, Davao Aguilas remained winless in 11 matches.
The Davaoeños immediately displayed their signature solid defense but Negrense winger Porteria found a way to notch the opening goal.
Porteria, who bucked food poisoning prior to the game, created a space off a rebound before beating goalkeepeer Marko Trkulja in the 27th minute.
Former Azkals booter Shrock dribbled past two Davao defenders then fired from the edge of the box in the 57th to cap the crucial victory for the Visayan powerhouse.
Ceres hopes to carry the momentum from this win into their first leg encounter with Singaporean club Home United FC in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Asean Zonal finals at the Jalan Besar Stadium on August 2.