PFL Saturday Rundown: Manila tightens hold in the league lead, Negros smothers Ilocos for seven

By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--Saturday's PFL action heats up as both Ceres Negros and Meralco Manila posted contrasting wins in the lead up to their titanic tussle next week.

In Bacolod, the Busmen piled more misery on the cellar-dwelling Ilocos United's inaugural season, firing in seven without reply in a drizzled Panaad grass to remain in the hunt for the playoff places.

Displaying their attacking prowess that made them the top-scoring squad in the inaugural season, Ceres pulled away in the first 30 minutes to remain unbeaten at home for the fifth time of asking.

Stephan Schröck (12'), Jeffrey Christiaens (24') and Fernando Rodriguez (30') piled more misery on the travel weary northerners as Patrick Reichelt marked his return with a late second half brace.

OJ Porteria added a brace as well to boost its playoff chances by taking their 16th point in the table.

Over at Rizal Memorial, the capital side needed a substitute's magic of James Younghusband to nick all three points from a pesky JPV Marikina side by an odd goal in three to tighten its grip in the league lead.

The club captain came on in the at the hour mark to head home a Tyler Matas' long throw seven minutes later for their seventh win of the year, extending their unbeaten run to nine matches for 23 points, five ahead of their Blue Line rivals.

Aris Caslib's Sparks went ahead earlier in the first half with a Masaki Yanagawa own goal in the 23rd minute before Satoshi Otomo finally opened his account on his return to the country off a counter to level the match five minutes later.

After Younghusband's header, Manila hold their nerve for the rest of the way, even with a man down after Daniel Gadia was sent to the showers for his second bookable offence with 15 minutes left to play.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada