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Ceres-Negros closes in on top spot

FILE – A standing-room-only crowd watches Ceres-Negros’ match against Malaysia’s Felda United in the AFC Cup. No other place in the country packs as many football fans as Bacolod’s Panaad Stadium. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/STEPHEN TAN

BACOLOD—Fernando Rodriguez produced another hattrick as Ceres-Negros delivered a ruthless attacking display to overwhelm FC Meralco Manila, 6-0, last Sunday night and move within three points off the Philippines Football League lead at Panaad Stadium here.

Coinciding with the 119th Negros Day, the Busmen came up with a performance to remember, putting the current PFL leaders to the sword with a blistering performance in the first half.

Bienvenido Marañon also struck twice while Carlie De Murga was similarly on target as Ceres went into the international break on a positive note.

With the victory, Ceres climbed to 51 points from 23 matches, three points behind leader the Sparks, who have played three more matches.

“I think we played well, especially the first half,” said coach Risto Vidakovic, whose side also avenged a 1-2 defeat to the Sparks early in the season. “We played with high intensity and if we play with high intensity, the result is usually very good.”

Marañon broke the deadlock with a long range effort past Sparks keeper Ace Villanueva, before De Murga redirected OJ Porteria’s effort from close range. Rodriguez opened his account with a strike from inside the box after Meralco failed to deal with Iain Ramsay’s cross from the left in the 31st minute.

Ceres got a fourth goal in the space of 15 minutes as Rodriguez smashed the ball home.

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