By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--In its first try to capture the top spot from Meralco Manila, Ceres Negros settled for an interesting draw.
JPV Marikina played spoiler and forced a 2-2 deadlock at fulltime of their crucial PFL showdown at the Biñan Football Stadium in Biñan on Wednesday night.
The game was already bizarre for Negros as the club had to play with a depleted roster that only saw 13 players getting activated with its key players called up to the Azkals' AFC Asian Cup Qualifier roster.
What made the match even more intriguing was that the game, which kicked off late due to time needed to fix Marikina's medical facilities, was called off with only 12 minutes left from the actual fulltime while Coach Risto Vidakovic was in a heated conversation with the officials.
Fernando Rodriguez drew first blood for Negros in the 25th minute, but Kouichi Belgira quickly struck an equalizer three minutes later.
Bienve Marañon converted Negros' second goal in the 36th minute, making sure Omid Nazari's free kick will not be wasted.
But Mahmoud Ali forced the splitting of the points with a 68th minute header off a Belgira cross.
The draw puts Marikina at 29 points after 25 matches, six points behind Laguna, which actually calls the venue home, for fifth place.
On the other hand, Negros remains in second with 52 points after 24 games. However, the club has two matches at hand compared to Manila, keeping it in a good position to take the top spot.
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