One goal in each half was enough to propel league-leaders Ceres-La Salle FC a step closer to claiming the title of the 2015 United Football League Division I tournament, when they dispatched Kaya FC, 2-0, Sunday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Coliseum.
Ceres had the first chance at the goal seconds after the kickoff, but the shot by Martin Steuble did not find the goal. That attempt was a sign of things to come as the frontrunners had more opportunities for the breakthrough goal. At the 20th minute, Kaya’s Jim Muñoz fouled a rushing Patrick Reichelt on the left, which gave the white-shirts a chance to go ahead off a free kick. In the resulting free kick, Steuble sent the ball to Bienvenido Marañon, only the shot went wide.
Former Azkal OJ Porteria took matters in his hands for Kaya in the next few minutes. The speedy striker saw an opening in Ceres’ defense and fired a shot that was deflected, and gathered by the opposing goalkeeper Louie Casas. Porteria, then, tried to connect to Tishan Hanley with a back pass; however, the Kittian international could not get to the ball. That sequence was the lone bright spot in the visitors’ offense as it was a Ceres dominated first half.
Despite spending most of the half on defense, Ceres attacked once they got control of the ball. At the 39th minute, Marañon broke the deadlock as he finished a great buildup play on top of the box. Both teams attempted to score again; nonetheless, neither side was able to add to the tally.
Ceres picked up from where they left off in the first half and continued their effective ball movement at the start of the second half. Thirteen minutes from the restart, league-leading scorer Adrian Gallardo doubled the lead for his team. Another sequence of good passing near the penalty area found the potent striker for the finish with acres of space, which sailed past Kaya custodian Nicolas O’Donnell.
At the 68th minute, the best chance of Kaya to get one back happened. Porteria attempted a volley from up close, only Casas was able to collect. On the other hand, substitute Jeffrey Christaens almost scored his team’s third goal, but the national mainstay could not put the exclamation point on the win. Nevertheless, the scoreline was enough to put Ceres with one hand on the coveted trophy.
Ceres Head Coach Ali Go was pleased that his wards executed the plan perfectly. Go shared that, “It was a hard game for us. The main objective was to defend. I told the boys just to be patient [on offense]; if we get a goal, maybe the game plan will change.” Despite the first goal, however, the mentor believed that his team still followed the plan throughout the match. When asked about Ceres’ approach on their potential title-clinching match, the long-time mentor concluded, “We’ll still work hard. We’ll treat anyone the same.”
Ceres-La Salle FC will go all out to secure the title when the face also-ran Team Socceroo on Saturday, July 25. Kaya will try to get back on track against Manila Jeepney FC on Wednesday, July 22.