Fueled by its spitfire Spanish strikers, Ceres Negros FC sped through a 5-1 domination of Stallion Laguna FC to barge into the upper half of the standings of the Philippines Football League (PFL) on a rainy Wednesday at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
Fernando Rodriguez fired a hat-trick and Bienvenido Marañon struck a brace as the Yellow Busmen raced to their second straight win and overtook Kaya FC-Makati at No. 4 with an advantage in goal difference.
Risto Vidakovic’s men also protected the Panaad pitch – their home turf from invasion, after winning three home games so far.
The Stallions suffered their fourth loss in seven games as they stayed at No. 7 with three points.
The Negrenses rode on a blistering start and their aggressiveness paid off when an unmarked Marañon hit the opener in the 18th minute.
Jess Melliza, who scored the equalizer against FC Meralco Manila, pulled one back for the Biñan-based booters nine minutes later.
Marañon allowed Ceres to control the game more after a well-placed cross from Martin Steuble in the 37th.
Rodriguez gave the home club a commanding 3-1 lead heading into halftime as he pounced on a loose ball before beating goalkeeper Dely Sadia.
The former Sevilla forward completed his first hat-trick in the league with superb second half goals.
Meanwhile, Global Cebu FC held on to frustrate Davao Aguilas FC with a 2-1 decision at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City.
Guinean forward Sekou Sylla limited the host to a lone marker before forcing a goalless second half to get back on the winning track and hand head coach Akbar Nawas his maiden victory in PFL.
With the win, the Cebuanos solidified their grip of the No. 3 spot with 13 points on a 4-1-2 win-draw-loss record.
Failing to take advantage of their last fixture in a three-game home stand, the Aguilas absorbed their fourth loss in eight games though they remained No. 6 with four points.