Spanish striker Adrian Gallardo fired a brace as Ceres-La Salle dealt newly-minted UFL league champion Global a 5-0 beating Sunday night to put itself in a strong position to claim at least an AFC Cup playoff berth next season.
Jeffrey Christiaens, Orman Okuinaya and Bienvenido Maranon were also on the scoresheet for the Busmen who still need a victory against JP Voltes on Sunday to clinch second. A Loyola Meralco loss to Stallion on Saturday will also seal a second place finish for Ceres regardless of the result of its match against Voltes.
“The game was important for us,” said Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic. “The key was defending good. We talked before the game and the guys did very well. It was very difficult to speak about the game because they (Global) had a man less, when they got the red card it was all over.”
Vidakovic knows Ceres’ job is far from over.
“We must think of the next game as the most important game for us,” said the Serbian. “We have one week to prepare for it. I hope we will be able to play like today. We must play together, defend together, attack together. That’s whats more important than playing individually. The only way to win the game is if everyone plays together.”
Global had wrapped up the league title and completed the double two weeks ago after a 7-0 demolition of Laos.
But it was Ceres which came out more motivated with its AFC Cup hopes hanging in the balance.
Stephan Schrock rattled the bar with an effort from beyond the halfline that caught Patrick Deyto off his line.
But the Busmen were not to be denied in the 37th minute when Gallardo rifled home from close range off a corner kick although the Spanish striker may have gotten away with a push on Amani Aguinaldo.
The second goal came six minutes later this time aided by a little bit of luck. What looked like a harmless cross from Christiaens on the left sailed over Deyto and bounced off the far post and into the back of the net.
Global looked deflated and frustrated and its woes were compounded when Arthur Kouassi was sent off for a second yellow card in first half stoppage time.
Okuinaya snuffed out any hopes of a fightback with a powerful effort from inside the box two minutes into the second half, before Maranon joined the scoring fray by finishing off a well worked team goal.
It was Ceres’ first win in five meetings with Global. More importantly, the victory could go a long way in its AFC Cup bid.
Earlier, Stallion raised its tally to 30 points after pummeling Green Archers, 3-1.