Photo by ceresfootball.com
On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon in Biñan, Ceres Negros FC and the U-22 National Team lit up the field in Copa Paulino Alcantara action, the erstwhile League champions getting out of danger with a narrow 2-1 victory.
The Young Azkals used their pace down the flanks, quick passing and a solid press to control proceedings early doors, applying pressure to the Busmen backline and custodian Ronilo Bayan via quick interplay and the duo of Mariano Suba and Yrik Gallantes thundering down the flanks. Chima Uzoka as an attacking spearhead continued his good form from the win against Green Archers United, keeping Dennis Villanueva and Super full in the middle of the park and generating set-pieces for the U-22s. The game turned on the half-hour mark, as an Azkal interception turned into an attacking opportunity lightning-quick, Uzoka providing great hold-up play and a scintillating backheel pass to the Hibernian academy product Gallantes to run onto, shooting right at Bayan but not missing on the rebound to put the Young Azkals in front. The Busmen to their credit pushed and prodded for an equalizer for the remainder of the half, coming up short on several occasions and on others being stopped by Anthony Pinthus in goal.
The second half saw the Busmen rumble into life though, seizing the momentum after the break and steadily chipping away at the Azkal backline, with Pinthus proving equal early on until the breakthrough moment at the hour mark. Ceres were able to string passes and numbers together past a resolute Azkal backline, Mike Ott playing the killer ball on for a Dylan de Bruycker equalizer into the top corner to knot things up. The Young Azkals pushed and prodded for a second goal, but sensing their legs fading, the Busmen sat back and controlled the tempo. Pushing and probing, the Busmen found the knockout blow 5 minutes from time, as Robert Lopez Mendy skied to nod in a cross from the right flank after a wonderful cut from the left to score the winning blow for Ceres. OJ Porteria had an opportunity later on to make it 3, but Anthony Pinthus proving equal to the challenge kept the score as is and lessened the arrears for the Young Azkals.