League Champions Ceres-La Salle FC shrugged-off an intense and rowdy Green Archers United (GAU) FC, 5-0, to clinch a semifinals berth in the 2015 United Football League (UFL) Cup late Friday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
After sitting out almost two weeks, Green Archers United FC entered the pitch and instantly brought intensity to the game. In just the opening minute, GAU was called for three consecutive fouls courtesy of forwards Robert Lopez-Mendy, Jhan jhan Melliza, and winger Jovanie Simpron. A yellow card awarded to Simpron in the fourth minute would paint the complexion of the game.
Despite the very physical showing of their opponents, Ceres-La Salle was able to execute well and almost took the first goal in the fifth minute. Orman Okunaiya managed to breakthrough the GAU backline and fired a shot. The still fresh Kim Versales was able to tap the ball, but failed to secure it. The custodian had luck on his side as Manny Ott was called offside after going for the rebounded ball right in front of the net.
The following minutes was a showing of lethargic football as both teams struggled to execute their offensive sets with a lot of fouls and offsides being called against them while the small number of chances both teams produced were either wide or defended well.
It was not until the 36th minute that a goal was finally scored. Ceres winger Okunaiya found the ball near the center circle and skillfully launched the ball towards the box where a cutting Lee Jeong Woo was able to slot it past GAU custodian Versales, who was off of his line.
The goal reinvigorated Ceres as their ball movement and team play seemed to have improved and rewarded them with another goal within two minutes of tallying their first. Once again, Ceres grabbed hold of the ball on the right flank. The ball eventually found its way to Okunaiya who was in the right post. The Nigerian winger then quickly headed the ball towards Patrick Reichelt in front of the net. The Azkal masterfully volleyed the ball out of Versales’ reach and into the goal.
Both teams continued their physical showing and had more attempts at goal before the halftime whistle was blown, but none would find their intended target. The half ended in favor of Ceres, 2-0.
The Archers desperate to get one back, began the second half aggressively and maintained their physical plays. In the early goings of the second half GAU had numerous attempts at goal; but to their dismay, couldn’t break the Negrense’s defense nor threaten the opposing team’s goalkeeper.
The aggression backfired on GAU as Ceres was able to capitalize on their backline’s miscue. Ceres’ midfielder Ott intercepted a lazy pass and easily tapped the ball past Versales.
GAU’s troubles continued when their goalkeeper was called for a handball infraction in the succeeding play. The infraction caused further problems as it led to a scuffle between Simpron and Lee. Luckily for both players, it was only the handball infraction that was called by the officials.
The scuffle helped change the tide of the game in favor of the home team, who continuously broke through GAU’s defense and eventually added another point 15 minutes before full-time. Marwin Angeles, after being subbed in for Ott, found enough space on the top left area of the box and fired one towards goal. The shot, however, only hit the right post. A speeding Jeffrey Christiaens was quick enough to rebound the lose ball and crossed it towards Reichelt inside the box. The Filipino-German, after seeing Versales helpless, sent the ball into the onion bag for his teams fourth goal.
Ceres completed their rout of GAU when their Spanish forward Bienvenido Marañon weaved through the latter team’s defense and was recklessly fouled by Versales inside the box. The consequent penalty kick was taken by the Spaniard, who easily sent it into the net.
With time running out, the Archers tried to get a consolation goal. To their dismay, the whistle was blown before they could tally a point. The game ended with a scoreline of 5-0 for the League Champions.
The League Champion’s head coach Ali Go believed that his team performed quite well and executed their game plan smoothly. When asked about how physical the opposition was coach simply shared that it was expected. “I just told the boys that expected, but don’t retaliate. I think it got into some of the boys’ heads.” He further shared that it was frustrating to see his boys get carded despite their lead but fully understands that football is an emotional game. “We’ll be cautious in the semifinal, but we’ll give our 100 percent. Yellow card or none, I’ll tell them to play 100 percent,” he ended.
Ceres-La Salle FC will now prepare to face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Manila Jeepney FC on Tuesday, August 25 2015.
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