True to its billing as the biggest match of the 2015 United Football League Division I tournament, bitter foes and AFC Cup participants Ceres-La Salle FC and Global FC did not disappoint when they closed another chapter of their storied rivalry with a 2-2 draw, Sunday evening at the historical Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
League-leaders Ceres-La Salle went to work at the onset of the match by dominating the possession of the ball. The white shirts threatened the opposing team at the fifth minute with a strike from Azkals midfielder Manny Ott, but national teammate and Global goalkeeper Patrick Deyto retrieved the ball. Ceres continued to pressure the opposing backline until a chance at the 13th minute was finally converted. Bienvenido Marañon collected a pass from the center and decided to shoot from a far. Deyto misjudged the flight of the ball as it sailed into the back of the net to give the top-seeded team the lead.
Despite being ahead, Ceres maintained hold of the game with precise ball handling and distribution. The midfielders and forwards of the home side tried to push the ball into their attacking third to pad the lead. Seven minutes from the first goal, Ott once again got the ball from the left wing; only this time, he was fouled by Global defender Jason De Jong just at the edge of the box. The national team midfielder directed his free kick into the onion bag and pass Deyto to get the second goal for the white side. Global had no answer to this spell from Ceres as they missed the few chances on their offense.
It was as though two totally different teams entered the pitch in the second half. Global, who was trying to claw back into the match, started the period aggressive on offense. Substitute OJ Clarino attempted a shot from a buildup play; nonetheless, he was denied by the defense. The visitors did not let up despite this botched play as Misagh Bahadoran, Matthew Hartmann, and Clarino continually received the ball in their final third. At the hour mark, Hartmann found a gap in the backline of Ceres and fired a shot at the top of the penalty area. The ball touched the crossbar and clipped the goal line, but to be sure, Clarino guided it into the goal to get one back for his team.
The goal awakened the blue shirts and wrestled control of the match. The attack force of Global tried to continually break the other squad’s defense with dangerous passes in the box. Global’s Captain Bahadoran weaved through the Ceres backline at the 76th minute to fire the equalizer, much to the delight of their team’s supports.
Several chances were taken by both sides, but none better than Global’s attempts to grab the lead and the potential win. At the 80th minute, Ray Jonsson snuffed a shot from Patrick Reichelt, who stormed into the danger area. Six minutes before the end of regulation, Masaki Yanagawa tried to flick the ball into the goal but instead it rolled across its face and out. Ceres survived the scare and settled for a draw against their nemesis Global as the final whistle was sounded. The latter, however, denied their victims to clinch the league title outright.
Global Head Coach Leigh Manson was frustrated with the outcome due to the initial adjustment of his team to match Ceres’ midfield. “I am kicking myself. We shouldn’t have done that [adjustment] … we are good enough to beat anybody,” he commented. On the other side of the pitch, Ceres’ mentor Ali Go expressed, “In the second half, we tried to match their tempo in the first 15 minutes. The problem was after that, the tempo went down for us. But all in all, I think we still played good. I know there [were] errors down there and I think we adjusted too late.” He added that the result would only yield the same scenario as they need just to win two of their next three games to walk away with the trophy.
Global will face struggling Team Socceroo on Wednesday, July 15, while Ceres-La Salle stakes their run against the league’s hottest team Green Archers United the following game on the same day.