It took extended minutes for both Loyola Meralco Sparks and Global FC to beat their rivals and reach the final of the PFF-Smart National Club Championship. Loyola advanced through a Phil Younghusband goal while Global had two successive strikes from Mark Hartmann and substitute Denis Villanueva to add separation in extra time.
Loyola Meralco Sparks 1 – 0 Stallion Gilligans
Matt Hartmann put the Loyola-based squad ahead in the first half after 10 minutes while Simone Rota equalized minutes before halftime. The second half was saw plenty of missed opportunities from both sides with Loyola having the advantage in shots and possession. Nothing materialized as the the game went on to extra time.
The younger Younghusband made the difference in the second half of extra time as he broke away from his defender only to be denied a goal scoring opportunity with a hard tackle from a Stallions defender that seemed to be inside the box. The referee blew his whistle and gave the defender his second yellow and marching orders but the match was restarted with a free kick on the edge of the box.
The top Azkals goalscorer was unfazed with the circumstances and still put one behind the net putting the ball in the top left corner which was well beyond the keepers reach. Loyola extend their unbeaten run to 4 games with 3 wins and a draw.
“I think were a little bit strong in the first half, really, should have put away more chances and maybe we didnt keep their keeper working hard enough. But fair play to Stalllions, they gave it everything they had it was always gonna be a good semi they are work very very hard and after getting that 1-1 with Global they are gonna be a tough side they were never gonna give up. As much as I wanted to avoid extra time especially with the schedule weve been playing, very pleased to be in the final.” said Loyola Caach Simon Mcmenemy.
Global FC 3 – 1 Ceres-La Salle FC
Global clawed their way back from a 1-0 deficit after the first minute to a thrilling win the final 15 minutes of extra time.
Manny Ott put the Bacolod squad ahead in the first minute when his corner kick curled in uncontested into the top corner. The last time the two teams met, Global also conceded a very early goal against Ceres in the 2014 UFL FA League Cup.
Global pushed hard after that which saw Hartmann hitting the corner of the woodwork in the 9th minute. The ball interestingly rolled to an open Hikaru Minegeshi afterwards but the Global players’ simple tap in went directly to the post.
The Dan Palami-backed squad had better possession and shots forcing Ceres Goalkeeper to have his first of many saves in the 19th minute. Possession was even in the remaining minutes of the first half as both teams had their chances but none of them dangerous enough.
Minegeshi atoned for his earlier miss as he layed-off a Misagh Bahadoran pass to an open Marky Hartmann to equalize just three minutes after the restart.
Both teams traded shots and half chances in the next few minutes with no team having a clear advantage. Martin Steuble made his Ceres debut when he came in as a substiute in the 68th minute. The change was effective as Ceres was getting the momentum from a tiring Global squad. Pressure from Ceres almost lead to a Kanagawa own goal in the 75th with Patrick Deyto saving his teammates kick.
Ceres had a golden chance in the 90th minute when striker Patrick Reichelt was clipped inside the box awarding the Bacolod squad with a penalty. Steuble stepped up to take the penalty but saw his shot going over the bar which pushed the game into extra time.
The current National Club winners took control on the first half of extra time having majority of possession and shots. Steuble and Okuinaiya had chances but both were well wide for the Vallacar Transit Club.
Ceres maintained their control at the start of the second half of extra time which saw an early chance for Reichelt that went over the bar. Global in the meantime had substitution in extra time with Sam Bonney and Dennis Villanueva relieving the tired Global players. The substitutions bore fruit as Villanueva rebounded on an initial counter attack to put Global ahead in the 111st minute.
Moments later an ensuing corner kick from Ceres was punched out by Deyto. Ceres’ Jeff Christaens recovered the ball from twenty-five yards only to see his well placed shot punched away by Deyto.
On the 114th minute, Hartmanns’ patience was rewarded as he hesitated on a an initial try but found a better angle to put one more shot inside the Ceres goal to increase their advantage and book their spot in the final.
The third place match between Ceres and Stallion will start at 4PM while the main event will be at 7PM, January 31 (Sat). Both games will be played at the Rizal Memorial stadium.