Patrick Reichelt and Bienvenido Marañon starred as Ceres Negros FC routed a hapless Ilocos United FC, 5-1, and moved closer to the top spot in the Philippines Football League (PFL) on Tuesday night at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.
Reichelt and Marañon each struck a brace as the second-running Yellow Busmen raced to their 17th win on top of five draws against four losses for 56 points, just a marker away from overtaking FC Meralco Manila.
Ceres Negros head coach Risto Vidakovic, however, was not elated with the win, as the Finals Series-bound Busmen are just out to chase the pole position heading into the playoffs.
“It was a tough game because, if you think about it, we were playing for nothing. We’re just playing to reach the 28 games. It’s a big problem to play these games,” lamented Vidakovic.
Ceres can clinch the No. 1 position with a win over Meralco on their Friday fixture at the National Football Training Center in Carmona, Cavite though ending up as the top seed does not come with any bonus in the semifinals.
The Conquistadors, meanwhile, finished their dismal season on a sour note as they fell to a league-worst 21 defeats and only managed to collect nine points built on a lone win and six stalemates.
The Ilocanos also suffered a third beatdown to the Negrenses in their four-game elimination round tie, with the other match resulting in a 1-1 draw last Saturday at the same venue.
Getting his groove after nursing an injury, Reichelt fired off the scoring spree for the Visayan powerhouse club in the 29th minute with a clinical strike on a cross by Marañon.
The national team standout followed it up early on in the second half as he calmly tapped in another fine assist from the Spanish striker.
Ilocos United closed to within striking distance after Chima Uzoka capitalized on a mad scramble inside the box to find the back of the net in the 62nd.
But Kevin Ingreso restored a two-goal lead for Ceres ten minutes later as the midfielder scored off a rebound on his own shot blocked by goalkeeper Baba Sampana.
Marañon made it a romp in the endgame, firing two quick goals within the last four minutes of the regulation.