By Ivan Saldajeno
BINAN--Ceres Negros drew nearer to the PFL title after stunning Stallion Laguna on the road, 2-0, at the Binan Football Stadium on Sunday.
Ceres Negros turned on the jet early in the second half as the club got a sigh of relief when a Stallion Laguna shot in the first half that hit the top post barely hit the goal line before going back to play.
Bienve Maranon basically won it for Ceres Negros with a 52nd minute goal from inside the box that barely went past Nelson Gasic and was not cleared out by a Stallion Laguna defender.
Robert Mendy sealed the win with a more impressive goal a minute later for the final count.
However, the bleeding did not end there for Stallion Laguna as skipper Balut Doctora, who came in as a substitute, had to be stretchered out after suffering a hamstring injury.
Ceres Negros, which scored its 16th straight win to go up to 49 points, remains nine points clear of Kaya Iloilo for the championship even if the latter prevailed at home against Air Force, 2-1.
Ceres Negros' magic number to clinch the championship is 12, that is, the team only needs to rack up 12 points in its remaining seven matches to claim its third consecutive title.
On the other hand, Stallion Laguna, which remained at 29 points, still heaved a sigh as Global Makati forced a late 2-2 draw on the road against Green Archers United, keeping some distance for third place.
Kaya Iloilo 2 Air Force 1
However, Kaya Iloilo still had to escape a tense moment late in the match to beat Air Force at the Iloilo City Sports Complex.
Goals from Connor Tacagni (38th minute) and Kenshiro Daniels (41st) seemed to have given Kaya Iloilo some cushion as the club went up, 2-0.
But Alex Elnar drilled one just before halftime to trim Kaya Iloilo's lead, setting up a wild second half.
The late drama came in the 89th minute, when Glenn Bulaquina appeared to have scored a header to tie the game up.
However, the goal was nullified after the referee called a foul on an Air Force player while trying to get past Shirmar Felongco, and Kaya Iloilo eventually held on.
Kaya Iloilo is now on 40 points, trying to stay in step with Ceres Negros and pulling away from Stallion Laguna in the race for second place.
Air Force missed another chance to go past Mendiola for fifth place and remained in sixth place with 11 points.
Global Makati 2 Green Archers United 2
At the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa, GAU was denied of a home win in a designated road game as Global Makati escaped with the stalemate.
GAU came back from an early Global Makati goal to take the lead only for the latter to score again late to force the 2-all draw.
GAU is now three points behind Stallion Laguna for third place with 26 points, while Global Makati, despite staying in last place, is now on seven points.
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