Iain Ramsay fired a hat trick as Ceres Negros FC seized the inaugural trophy in the Philippines Football League (PFL) with a 4-1 romp over rival Global Cebu FC on Saturday night at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
Ramsay struck three goals bridging the opposite halves to hand the Yellow Busmen their first domestic championship.
It was another historic feat for the Bacolod-based booters, who also bagged the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Asean zone title last August.
“It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this stage. Fortunately for us in Ceres, we’ve had a lot of success in the AFC Cup–becoming Asean champions. This (PFL championship) just caps it off,” said Ramsay, who scored his third hat trick to end the season.
The inaugural finals turned out to be a fitting farewell game for the Fil-Australian midfielder as he is set to transfer to newly promoted Prachuap FC in the Thai League next year.
Ramsay was eager to leave his mark on the club early on. The Azkal standout directed a fine pass to Bienvenido Marañon, who pulled off an easy tap-in to open the scoring just four minutes into the game.
The Negrenses doubled their lead in the 20th minute as Stephan Shrock outran the opposing backline then unselfishly laid the ball off to give way to Ramsay’s first goal.
Moments later, Junior Muñoz raced down the right flank before sending the ball to the other side of the penalty box, leading to another Ramsay crisp finish for a massive 3-0 lead at the break.
Ramsay freed himself up to receive another assist, this time from Patrick Reichelt, and cap off his dazzling performance with a three-goal feat at the hour mark.
Darryl Roberts notched a consolation goal for the visiting Global Cebu in the 89th but that did not stop the home fans from going into a raucous celebration.
Besides an assured AFC Cup slot next year, Ceres Negros also snagged a preliminary round berth in the top-tier AFC Champions League.