MANILA -- Cebu bucked a slow start to make three late goals for a 5-2 win over host Dumaguete in the Visayas regional of the Philippine Football Federation Suzuki Under-23 National Cup in Silliman University.

Team Cebu capitalized on sloppy defending by the home team to post two early goals courtesy of Jessie Roy Melgo and Joseph Rodriguez.

But Dumaguete came back strong in the last 10 minutes of the first half as Remelito Tabuñag scored in the 36th minute and Morris John Tulang converted a penalty shot in the 40th minute to the delight of cheering fans.

Cebu coach Eleazar Toledo adjusted by making sure his defenders did not stay too up front to meet the high balls of the determined hosts.

"Don't let them put the ball in the danger zone," he reminded his stunned players at the half.

The strategy worked and Dumaguete's attacks went largely uncoordinated.

With time running down, Rodriguez slipped right through the last line of defense and to go one-on-one with the Dumaguete keeper.

He sent him one way only to boot the ball to the right. The 82nd minute goal totally brought the confidence of the home side down as they gave up two more goals in succession to Joelito Lucañas and Laurel Reyes to complete the 5-2 rout.

"Kulang sa puso," lamented losing coach Pere Siennes. "Di ba bale, meron naman next time."

With the loss, Iloilo automatically qualified to the quarterfinals along with leader Bacolod.

Cebu claimed third spot on a 2-2 record while Dumaguete fell to fourth with a 1-2 slate. Leyte brings up the rear with a 0-3 record.

The quarterfinal round of the inaugural tournament begins in May. (Virgil Lopez/PR/Sunnex)