PFL: Last-gasp Meralco edge Kaya; Ceres hit JPV for five

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Meralco Manila emerged triumphant in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash in the Philippines Football League as they beat rivals Kaya FC-Makati 1-0.

In an intriguing affair at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, both sides showed plenty of endeavour but it initially looked as though there was to be no separating the sides.

There was certainly no shortage of drama too as Kaya had Miguel Tanton sent off in the 68th minute after a high tackle on Daniel Gadia, before Meralco too were reduced to ten men in the final minute following a second booking for Milan Nikolic.

But, just when it looked like a draw was on the cards, Gerardo Valmayor emerged as the hero as he headed home a Gadia cross from the left to win it for his side.

The result keeps Meralco firmly on course to finish the season top of the table, as they retain a four-point lead over Kaya with three games in hand.

However, their biggest threat remain Ceres-Negros, who six points behind having played three games less, after cruising to a 5-0 victory over JPV Marikina at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium.

The Busmen never looked in danger of going home without maximum points after racing to a three-goal lead inside the opening seven minutes.

First, Fernando Rodriguez broke the deadlock in the third minute as he exchanged a neat one-two with OJ Porteria before stroking his shot past Felipe Tripulca.

Two minutes later, a short corner routine saw Bienvenido Maranon receive possession from Stephan Schrock and fire away a speculative effort from the edg of the box that caught out Tripulca at the near post.

Iain Ramsay was next to strike for the hosts, making no mistake in sending a first-time effort into the back of the net, after Rodriguez had charged down an attempted clearance to force the ball into his path.

Despite being in possession of a comfortable lead, Ceres refused to take their foot off the pedal and Porteria added a fourth four minutes into the second half, netting on the rebound after Schrock’s initial effort had been saved.

And, with ten minutes remaining, the rout was completed when Maranon was released by Porteria’s slide-rule pass, keeping his cool to dance around both Tripulca and a recovering defender to score into an unguarded net.