*Photo by Mark Cristino/UFL
Unlike in their two previous visits at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Ceres-La Salle came away with an important victory over 90 minutes when they trampled Brunei DPMM, 3-0, on Thursday night in the first leg of the Singapore Cup.
A far cry from the other games they played in Singapore, which featured two draws in regulation, Ceres-La Salle made sure it was a comfortable affair the time around. In doing so, they now look firmly poised in booking their place in the final four of the competition.
There were early signs coming from the 2015 United Football League champions. Bienvenido Marañon tested keeper Wardun Yussof with a solid shot fired inside the box four minutes into the game. A few moments later, another chance came for the Filipinos in the form of Paul Mulders’ off-target effort. Not able to make the first couple of chances count, Ceres-La Salle managed to sustain rhythm which duly paid off in the 15th minute.
Marañon located Manny Ott who in turn supplemented the play with a magnificently struck shot to put Ceres-La Salle ahead. It nearly became 2-0 five minutes later when Carli de Murga nodded the ball into the onion bag, but the officials disallowed a goal due to a violation just before the ex-Azkal touched the ball. Despite the call, the Philippine club kept on piling the pressure which led them to another opportunity to pad the advantage. Stephan Schröck came up with an audacious attempt from far out only for it to go harmlessly wide.
The fluffed chance invited Schröck to aim from a closer distance in his next chance, a move that paid dividends for the Philippine international. Before doing so, he danced his way around two defenders in order for him to create space and strike the ball past Yussof. The Bruneian goalkeeper got called into action once more when Jeffrey Christiaens threatened to put the game out of reach, but the Filipino-Belgian winger struck it directly to Yussof.
The Brunei squad based in Singapore seemed to have enough of it as they played more aggressively towards the break. Azwan Salleh made the then idle Louie Casas work a sweat after his shot was kept out by the alert Filipino goalkeeper. Not succeeding with a shot, Salleh decided to set up teammate Maudidi Kasmi who somehow missed the chance of pulling one back before halftime.
In the second half, Brunei DPMM hit the ground running and threatened to trim the deficit before the hour mark. Ramazotti and Rosmin Kasmi produced attempts to give their team a chance, but neither try was good enough to breach Casas who marked the goal superbly. His fine performance safeguarded the lead that even grew bigger 18 minutes before time. Patrick Reichelt sublimely teed up Schröck who bundled the ball into the net from close range to score his second and Ceres-La Salle’s third of the night.
Perhaps the only blemish in Ceres-La Salle’s evening came at the 85th minute as Manny Ott received his marching orders following an incident away from play. As a result, the former Ingolstadt midfielder will miss the second leg of the quarterfinal set to be held on Sunday.