In a battle for pride, both Pachanga Diliman FC and Manila Jeepney FC had their answers to the opposition as they figured in a stalemate at the end of 90 minutes, 3-all, early Sunday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Eighth-placed team Pachanga Diliman went to work early in the match and continually peppered the defense of the blue-shirts. At the sixth minute, skipper Hamed Hajimehdi could have broken the deadlock, but the captain was denied by Manila Jeepney’s keeper RJ Joyel. Joyel once again muffed another opportunity for Pachanga in the following play. Jinggoy Valmayor had room to operate on the left flank; nonetheless, the Los Manileños custodian tapped the ball out for a corner. Pachanga kept their fluidity going on the offensive side, but they could not put something into the back of the net.
With the home side in attack mode, Manila Jeepney took their chances on the counterattack. At the quarter-hour mark, it was the patient defense that worked for the visitors. Eric Giganto received a pass from the back and found Michael Menzi on the opposite flank. With Pachanga goalie Steve Yambou approaching, Giganto sent the ball to Menzi for the finish and the go-ahead goal.
Pachanga-Diliman did not let up on their attacking pressure and continued to send passes into their final third, but Jeepney was there to stifle any chance for the white-shirts. The next few minutes were highly physical as both teams tried to wrestle control of the match. The home team searched hard for an equalizer, which went on to stoppage time. After several attempts and incursions into the box, Pachanga was finally rewarded with a change to score. At the final minute of stoppage time, Joyel was whistled for a foul on Valmayor inside the box, conceding a penalty. Hajimehdi calmly tucked the ball into the upper right corner and into the net for the tying goal. The halftime whistle was sounded with both teams knotted at 1.
At the second half, Pachanga picked up from where they left off in the first. Six minutes from the restart, Valmayor received a long pass from Nathan Octavio. The former UAAP stalwart passed it to his captain Hajimehdi on left wing, who then connected with Hossein Doustdarsefidmazgi. The latter fired from close range and straight into the mitts of Joyel. However, as what happened in the first goal, Manila Jeepney again pounced on a defensive lapse of the home squad. At the 59th minute, Giganto paced himself and blasted the ball from the top of the box over Yambou to regain the lead for the Los Manileños.
The gap did not last long, as Pachanga was able to level the match again in the following play. Jeepney’s Van Rey Diaz was called for a foul off a scuffle inside the box, giving away another penalty for the opponents. Hajimehdi tapped the ball inside, but the spot kick was ordered to be retaken. The Pachanga forward could not be denied on the second attempt as he outsmarted Joyel to put the game back on even terms again at 2-apiece.
Manila Jeepney was finally able to execute their offense and reclaimed the lead thereafter. Ten minutes before regulation, Valmayor was double-teamed by the opposing defense, and Joshua Mulero then stole the ball off him. Mulero found a long gap in the Pachanga’s backline and drove towards Yambou’s goal. The centerback then sent the ball to his teammate Giganto, who then passed it back to him. Mulero tapped pass the goal line to wrestle back the lead for the visitors, 3-2. The burly defender almost scored his second of the match six minutes after, only the shot was too strong and went over the bar.
It was Pachanga that made the most of their opportunity in the ensuing play. From the midfield, Hajimehdi controlled the ball before crossing it to compatriot Doustdarsefidmazgi, who then passed it to Gadia inside the penalty area. With Joyel on his heels, Gadia flicked the ball to his left for substitute Step Permanes, who headed the ball into the onion bag for the equalizer. The home squad almost stole the victory in the dying minutes, only Pemanes was denied by Joyel on his final attempt. The match ended as Manila Jeepney and Pachanga Diliman share the spoils, three goals each.
The two teams will end their League season on Wednesday, August 5. Pachanga-Diliman FC will take on Stallion FC, and Manila Jeepney FC will face Division I champions Ceres-La Salle FC.
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