Ceres Negros’ OJ Porteria (10) keeps the ball away from Kaya Iloilo’s Masanari Omura (4) during their 2018 Philippines Football League match at the Iloilo Sports Complex in La Paz, Iloilo City on Wednesday, July 11. The Busmen dealt the Iloilo squad its first loss at home 1-0. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

PATRICK Reichelt’s first-half goal was enough.

Ceres Negros hung on to that single accomplishment to defeat Kaya Iloilo at the latter’s home field in La Paz, Iloilo City during their 2018 Philippines Football League match on Wednesday.

Ceres, the defending champion, further padded its lead in the standings with 45 points (14-2-3 win-loss-draw). Kaya stayed on second place after the game at the Iloilo Sports Complex with 33 points (10-5-3).

This was the fifth and final encounter for the regional rivals this season – they split their first two matches and settled for draws in the last two – and Kaya’s first loss in its turf.

“We really wanted this win,” said Ceres Negros head coach Risto Vidakovic. “This is a very important win for us because it increases our lead in the standings further. We can now shift our focus on the AFC Cup.”

The Busmen got early chances for a score but attempts from Carli de Murga and Takumi Uesato were defended well. The Iloilo squad had two chances to get on the board, too, courtesy of Jovin Bedic and Connor Tacagni, but these were foiled as well.

Ceres finally got the lead in the 15th minute with Reichelt converting from a pass by Uesato. The lead nearly grew for the Negros team but Jose Porteria and Reichelt misfired.

Kaya was dealt with a huge blow just before the halftime break when Robert Lopez Mendy was tagged with his second yellow card, decimating the locals’ lineup to 10 men.

Ceres goalkeeper Toni Doblas went to work in the second half as he thwarted all game-tying attempts from Kaya, including a late try from Negrense Jayson Panhay in the 90th minute./PN

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