The much anticipated game between the current top two teams in the 2016 United Football League did not disappoint.
Defending champions Ceres-La Salle Football Club and 2016 UFL Cup winners Global Football Club put on a show and arguably the best game yet this season. After ninety minutes, both teams couldn’t be separated from one another and were left to have mixed feeling after a 3-3 draw yesterday (July 17, 2016) at rhe Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
An Adrian Gallardo (44′ & 77′) brace and a Bienvenido Maranon (78′) goal salvaged what looked like a lost game for Ceres. On the other hand, goals from Ivan Petrovic (13′), Misagh Bahadoran (25′) and Hikaru Minegishi (59′) still weren’t enough for Global to secure three valuable points. Aside from the goals, Global defender Jerry Barbaso got a red card after he incurred two yellow cards.
A fiercely competitive contest was on show once the game kicked off. Ceres and Global immediately showed why they were the top two teams in the league. Both teams were proactive in possession, although it was Global which got the lead first. Via a Bahadoran assist, Petrovic made no mistake and calmly slotted the ball past Ceres goalie Louie Casas.
Petrovic’s goal opened up the game and turned it into a thrilling contest. Ceres tried to level the scores in an instant courtesy of attempts from Manny Ott and Maranon, with both players perhaps unlucky not to score.
At the other end, Global captain Bahadoran proved he was his side’s most dangerous attacker when his run into the Ceres box almost won him a penalty and his later attempt via a free kick forced a good save from Casas.
Bahadoran then got the goal that he deserved at the 25th minute when his long strike from outside the Ceres box found itself at the lower left corner of Casas’ goal. Two goals up and in cruise control, the game was very much Global’s to lose.
Not to be undone, Ceres still kept themselves in the contest by pushing for a goal themselves. Global goalie Patrick Deyto parried away an Ott free kick and performed a routine save against Patrick Reichelt’s attempt. However, one Ceres player who wasn’t to be denied was Gallardo whose fine finish left Deyto helpless at the 44th minute.
Ceres got the goal they craved before the break which meant Global needed to defend a 2-1 lead at halftime. The second half then started similarly to the previous period. Both teams didn’t sit back and were only interested in adding to their tally. Reichelt forced another good save from Deyto as Ceres retained possession more.
Lack of possession wasn’t a problem for Global as their quick passing moved the ball fast. That passing was epitomized by the quick interplay between Omid Nazari and Minegishi which allowed the latter to bring back Global’s two-goal lead at the 59th minute.
True to form, Ceres didn’t show any hint of giving up. Deyto parried away another Ceres free kick, this time from Martin Steuble. Ceres’ possession and graft finally finally paid dividends in three crazy minutes. Gallardo unleashed a well-worked shot to bring Ceres within one at the 77th minute. Literally afterwards, Maranon scored the equalizer at the 78th minute.
Both teams had good chances to win the game at 3-3. Ceres’ best chance fell to Maranon who perhaps should have won the game for the Bacolod-based club four minutes from the end of ninety minutes. Deep into stoppage time, Bahadoran unleashed a free kick which hit the Ceres’ crossbar. The game ended in a draw which was perhaps a fair result.
Understandably, the two teams’ coaches had mixed feelings with the result. Ceres’ Ali go said, “As always Global is a tough opponent. I think, all in all if we watch the video again, we played more good football but the danger is always their fast players. Global is always a hard game. They give everything against Ceres. At the same time I don’t know why always with Global we make silly mistakes that is converted to goals. I think kudos to the boys. At 3-1 down they didn’t give up.”
On the other side, Global coach Leigh Manson said, “Positives, we’re still top of the table. Obviously disappointed to love our 3-1 lead. You’d like to think we could have seen out the twenty minutes but I think again that’s why you see (in) Ceres and Global the difference from the teams, in the moment, (from) the rest of the division. There’s not much between the teams.”
The result meant that there were no movements at the top of the UFL table. Global remained at 1st place with 31 points while Ceres was directly below them at 2nd place with 28 points. This was the final fixture for the first round and there shall be a mid-season break.