JPV Marikina FC stunned Ceres Negros FC, 2-1, to sneak into the second spot of the Philippine Football League (PFL) on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
League-leading scorer Takumi Uesato and substitute Jay Baguioro struck in the second half as JPV Marikina downed the Visayan powerhouse and improved its record to 4-0-2 win-draw-loss for 12 points.
“Our hard training paid off again. I’m so happy that I was able to contribute a goal,” said Baguioro.
JPV snatched the second place from Kaya FC-Makati.
Ceres Negros remained on the fifth place with four points on a 1-1-1 slate.
Following a goalless first 45 minutes, the Voltes buckled down to work in the ensuing half and it paid off when Uesato was awarded with a penalty kick after drawing a tackle from Ceres defender Kota Kawase.
The Japanese striker calmly shot from the spot to push the Marikina side ahead, 1-0, in the 56th minute.
Baguioro replaced John Celiz on the midfield in the 69th and made his presence felt 10 minutes later when he hit the insurance goal after beating the offside trap then slotting home the ball.
The Bacolod-based squad would pick up its lone goal as Bienvenido Marañon found the back of the net in the 83rd.
Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic missed the services of some of his key players following the two-week international break though he did not want to overlook JPV’s quality performance.
“In the second half, they (JPV) played better and they won it,” said the Serbian mentor.
Meralco stays on top, beats Kaya-Makati
FC Meralco Manila enjoyed a triumphant return to the south bank of the Pasig on Saturday, defeating archrival Kaya Makati 2-0 at the University of Makati.
A 43rd minute header by defender Joaco Cañas and a 66th minute penalty by Phil Younghusband gave the Sparks a fifth win in as many matches in the Philippines Football League’s first season.
The three points provides Meralco with fifteen points, five clear of Kaya.
Meralco coach Aris Caslib reinserted Jake Morallo into the starting eleven for an injured James Younghusband and the wide man repaid the coach’s confidence with an energetic display from the right flank including an early chance that sailed over the crossbar.
Midway through the first half Tahj Minniecon spied Makati goalie Zach Banzon just off his line and made an audacious attempt from forty yards out but the shot went just high. At the 40th minute Tyler Matas almost got on the scoresheet but Banzon was equal to the Hawaiian’s low drive.
Three minutes later Meralco got their deserved opener when Cañas expertly redirected a Matas long throw off the back of his head and into the goal. It’s the Spanish cornerback’s first score of the season.
Early in the second half the team’s other center back, Milan Nikolic, made a big goal line clearance to deny the home side an equaliser.
The game turned again decisively in the 64th when Makati forward Jordan Mintah was called for striking Nikolic’s face in the box. Referee Cliff Daypuyat displayed a red card to Mintah and also pointed to the penalty spot. Phil Younghusband powered into the low left corner to make 2-0.
Nikolic, Matas, substitute Ashley Flores and Younghusband all spurned late chances as ten-man Kaya chased the game, but a third consecutive clean sheet for goalie Ace Villanueva means Meralco remain on the PFL summit with a perfect slate.
“In our system if you have one player who loses concentration, a team like Kaya can capitalize on it. But we didn’t,” said Meralco captain Phil Younghusband, who also was awarded the Man of The Match plum.
“Every single player worked their socks off and gave everything,” added the club’s all time leading scorer.