There are times when it is not about how you start, but how you finish.
Global Cebu might have started slower, yet it was the same team who ended up happier after 90 minutes, after a 2-1 comeback win over Meralco Manila at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
Akbar Nawas’ men were designated as the home side for the night, as their main ground — the Cebu City Sports Complex — was unavailable for the day.
“I think we had a bad first half,” shared Nawas. “Only the last 20 minutes we came into the game. Of course credit to (Meralco). Don’t take everything away from them because they fought well.”
Following a goalless first half, it was Meralco who opened the scoring in the 61st minute. Global defender Darryl Regala fouled Sparks winger Tahj Minniecon in the box, which gave the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Minniecon took the resulting penalty and directed it past Cebu goalie Patrick Deyto with ease.
As they were the designated away side, Minniecon’s spot kick handed Meralco a priceless away goal. Minniecon could have doubled Manila’s cushion seven minutes later, but Deyto was on hand to produce a crucial stop.
Time was running out for Global. Desperation crept in, as Global players protested the referee’s non-call when Pika Minegishi was brought down in the Meralco box.
When all seemed lost, Wesley Dos Santos scored a header for Global to level the tie in the 90th minute.
And Dos Santos’ leveler wasn’t the last sting in the tale. The referee called for three minutes of stoppage time, which turned out to be a blessing for Cebu. Right at the death, Minegishi turned in a cross from substitute Paolo Salenga to win the game for Global.
“We never gave up. Only that. We never gave up. We just worked hard until 90 minutes. Even additional time, we just focused 100 percent. We were a bit lucky but we never gave up that’s why we got a good opportunity,” commented Minegishi.
Global seized the 2-1 victory over Meralco in what was a stunning collapse by the latter. “Credit to the players who never stopped believing they could win this game,” added Nawas. “All this boils down to the players’ character.”
Both clubs will look to finish the job next Saturday (December 9, 7:00 pm) at Rizal Memorial to move on to the championship game against either Ceres Negros or Kaya Makati.