Ceres-La Salle FC survived a late Kaya FC comeback to claim their opening win with a 3-2 scoreline in the PFF-Smart Club Championship at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Bacolod-based squad started the game strong by getting decent half chances from Nate Burkey, Patrick Reichelt, and Jayson Panhay. Burkey, who made his Ceres debut, showed his tip-top form when he stole a weak pass in the final third only to see his chip go over the bar in the 13th minute.
Kaya almost went up in the 26th but Joven Bedic’s strike was over the bar after an impressive counter attack. Nate Burkey also had his half chance two minutes after when his twenty yard strike that was inches wide of the top corner.
Both teams had their chances at the half hour mark with Ceres having the clear advantage of possesion and shots.
Ceres opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with Burkey picking his spot at the bottom corner to give his team the advantage. The Ceres striker found himself alone in the box after he received a well-timed pass from teammate Patrick Reichelt who was tackled after making the assist.
The Ceres goalkeeper Louie Michael Casas made two successive saves in the 39th and 40th minute respectively against Louie Clark’s corner shot and Ali Borromeo’s header. The first half ended with Ceres’ lone goal advantage.
Substitutions were aplenty at halftime when Orman Okunaiya came in for Ceres and the entry of Kenshiro Daniels and former Ceres Player Joshua Beloya for Kaya.
The Vallacar Transit-backed team doubled their advantage with the comebacking Angelo Marasigan in the 54th. Marasigan scored in an impressive individual effort by dashing from forty yards out and slotting the ball past Kaya’s Nick O’ donnel.
Burkey completed his brace two minutes later when Reichelt provided a sublime cutback to make the score 3-0 after an hour.
Kaya pulled a goal back in the 77th minute care of a superb Joven Bedic strike. The former University of St. la Salle player curled in a volley from the top of the box which hit the inside of the post before going in. Bedic again scored five minutes after with a header to close the gap to one.
Ceres also ha a few chances of their own from substitutes Adrian Gallardo and Manny Ott. Gallardo skied his shot from a breakaway while putting his free kick over the bar a few minutes after. Ott tried to curl in a free kick but was wide off the post. Bedic had a golden chance to equalize in the final minute of injury time but his shot was inches wide off the post.
The game also saw the debut of Valentine Kama (previously from Global) and National Team Player Paul Mulders for Ceres. Joshua Beloya is reunited with former USLS teammate Bedic in Kaya.
Kaya will play Laos FC next Saturday at 4PM while Ceres-La Salle will play Loyola in the 7PM game. Loyola earlier beat Laos 4-0 in the opening game. All games will be played in Rizal Memorial and admission is FREE.