Jason Sabio saved the day for the ten-man Ceres team as he scored the winning goal to salvage a 3-2 win against a resolute Manila Jeepney FC.
Ceres started the first half with limited shots against the disciplined Jeepney back line. Spanish striker Adri Gallardo came closest in 17th only to see his top corner free kick tapped out by Manila’s Ref Cuaresma. The Jeepney keeper again made a beautiful save off a Manny Ott volley two minutes after. Manila Jeepney did some quick counter attacks in the first half but were mostly foiled by the Ceres back four.
The Manila Jeepney defense was solid all throughout until Jinho Kim finally beat the keeper in the 43rd with a low shot to the left. A momentary switch between two wings in Jinho and Jayson Panhay allowed Jinho to be free on top of the box for the opening goal.
The start of the second half saw two consecutive penalty kicks for both teams. Ceres’s Adri Gallardo Valdez converted a penalty on the 48th minute to make the score 2-0 in favor of Ceres while Jeepney’s Zabihi Taher’s spot kick was saved by former Azkal Michael Casas in the 55th.
Three minutes later, Angelou Jurao scored on a very tight angle to pull one back for Manila Jeepney. The second half substitute broke free from Sang Min of Ceres to narrow down the deficit to a goal.
Things went bad for The Bacolod squad as Manny Ott was handed his second yellow card in the 64th minute after clearly dispossessing a Jeepney player. The team from the Capital took advantage as Arnel Amita intercepted a weak pass and equalized with a great shot beyond the Ceres keepers reach in the 70th.
Ceres played so much better after the equalizer as they kept possession and launched a series of attacks led by second half substitutes in Patrick Reichelt, Orman Okunaiya, and Yong Chan Son. Their persistence bore fruit as Okunaiya’s corner met Sabio’s head to retake the lead at the 76th. The former National Player rose high in the far post to score a delicious header which grazed the bottom of the crossbar before going in.
Reichelt almost scored a fourth goal in the 84th after breaking through the Jeepney defense but the keeper made a good save from a one-on-one. Manila Jeepney also finished the game with ten men as Reymart Cubon fouled a streaking Patrick Reichelt in the final minute of extra time.
“Eveybody understood that we need to fight and I think we finished good in the last twenty minutes. We are lucky we scored one goal in the last few minutes and we finished winning” said Ceres Captain Juani Guirado.
Ceres-La Salle FC extend their winning streak to four in the 2014 UFL FA League Cup. They have already qualified for the quarterfinals in their last win against Loyola while Jeepney will be fighting for their qualification in their last two games.
Only the the top four teams in two groups of seven will qualify for the next round. Group standings will not a be a factor in the the quarterfinals and semifinals as the pairings will all be redrawn for each stage.