A Masaki Yanagawa goal 11 minutes from time propelled Global FC over Stallion FC in Sunday evening’s meaningful United Football League (UFL) Division I match held at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. The result pushed Global ahead by a point over Stallion, who fell to third place after their second encounter in the season.
Knowing that a win will keep them within touching distance over league leaders Ceres-La Salle FC, Stallion wasted no time in attempting to take a lead against the defending UFL champions. They registered a golden chance inside the opening six minutes. Ruben Doctora Jr. nearly opened the scoring at the sixth minute but his shot only went straight to Global keeper Roland Sadia. The determined pack mentored by Ernie Nierras went on to break the tie in their favor three minutes later. Ian Araneta and Doctora connected inside the box to circumvent Sadia who left the goal unguarded. Doctora unfortunately lost his footing in the area but thankfully for him, Nathan Alquiros was nearby to easily tap the ball into the empty net. Shortly, Doctora was in the thick of the action again. The Ilonggo striker managed to sneak the ball past Sadia but Yanagawa was at the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line.
Down by a goal, Global attempted to restore parity in the match as soon as possible. At the 15th minute, Norio Suzuki and Izo Elhabib connected to breach the Stallion defense but the latter’s strike from close range was headed away for a corner by David Basa. Matthew Hartmann also got going offensively with two dangerous strikes fired at Johann Neotzel’s goal. The first one went off the mark while the succeeding attempt was halted by the Stallion goalkeeper. The Fil-Briton nearly rued those missed opportunities had Araneta’s shot went in a few moments after his chances. Still eager to tie the match, the champions kept on piling pressure on Stallion’s sturdy backline. They eventually reaped the fruits of their labour nine minutes before halftime. Dennis Villanueva wittily headed the ball into the path of Elhabib who made no mistake from three yards out to break even. Determined to bring his team back in front, Araneta saw his attempt stopped by Sadia a minute after the score changed. At halftime, there was nothing that separated both sides.
It was a cagey, end-to-end affair in the early moments of the second half. Not willing to lose an important battle, the two teams defended resolutely to prevent an odd goal going against their way. Global came close to taking the lead at the 63rd minute when Mark Hartmann’s free kick was fumbled by Neotzel. Elhabib tried to pounce on the loose ball but the Stallion defense eventually got rid of danger. At the next minute, Stallion’s Shirmar Feloncgo burst forward but his attempt was collected by Sadia. As time winded down, the pressure on both teams to find a winning goal escalated. At the end of the day, it was the more experienced Global team who prevailed. Mark Hartmann’s corner met the leg of Yanagawa who nonchalantly scored what was the deciding goal of the match. Four minutes after, former Stallion player OJ Clarino nearly dealt a backbreaking third goal to his old team had he kept his shot lower from close range. There was still ample time for the men in fuchsia and black to get a result but Global held firm towards the end to bring home all the points.
Relieved, Global coach Leigh Manson voiced the importance of winning the game above all things. “No matter what happens, we have to get three points. We might have to scrap for it, we might have to fight for it, but that was the only acceptable result,” he elaborated. He assessed that his players showed enough resolve to accomplish such a vital goal entering the business end of the season. Up next for them is a 5:15 PM match versus Pachanga on June 29.
On the other side, Stallion manager Nierras declared his intention of filing a protest as he thinks that one of Global’s players was ineligible in tonight’s match. Regardless, he hints towards improving the team’s ability to convert in front of goal if they were to succeed in their future matches. They will battle Manila Jeepney FC this coming Wednesday at 5:15 PM.
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