The race to enter the top four of the 2017 Philippines Football League was on show once again as four teams squared off last August 5 in what was the league’s only weekend double-header.
Rufo Sanchez scores in Global return as Cebu prevails 2-1 against Ilocos
The first game of the weekend saw Global Cebu host Ilocos United at the Cebu Sports City Complex. Notably, the game featured the return of Spanish striker Rufo Sanchez, who last played for Global in 2013.
However, it was the away side that drew first blood after just 11 minutes of play. New signing Charlie Beaton eluded the home side’s defense and shot past Patrick Deyto to open his account for the visitors.
Ilocos led 1-0 at the half, but Global ended up having the last laugh. Cebu turned up the pressure against Ilocos upon the game’s resumption, and a goal was inevitable for the Dan Palami-owned club. Come the 63rd minute, Global leveled the scores courtesy of Sanchez’s header.
At that point, momentum was with Global. It was just a matter of converting it into that winning goal. Unlike the first goal, Global didn’t have to wait long for the next one, as Hikaru Minegishi scored the winner in 67th minute in front of the 2,650 fans in attendance.
Sanchez commented, “It’s amazing! You come home and you feel people love you. It’s amazing to come here every week and have these kinds of fans.”
It finished Global 2-1 Ilocos, as the former clinched their eighth win of the campaign which leaves them in second place with 28 points, while the latter are still in eighth place with three points.
Tahj Minniecon’s brace lifts Meralco over streaking Kaya
In arguably the biggest fixture of the weekend, FC Meralco Manila returned to the top of the league table with a 2-1 victory against Kaya Makati FC at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. It was the Sparks’ first win in the post-Younghusband era, and it came at a good time against top opposition.
Sparks coach Aris Caslib shared, “The match itself speaks for the quality of the players. The message to the team before the game was that the bench must step up, and they did.”
Tahj Minniecon got his first goal in the game in the 23rd minute when he latched onto a Curt Dizon assist to shoot past Kaya goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma and hand the home side the lead. Both teams then traded punches, and it was Kaya who got the next goal under fortunate circumstances.
Kaya’s Ghanian forward Jordan Mintah unleashed a header which was accidentally turned in by Meralco defender Milan Nikolic for an own goal in the 78th minute. It was a big blow for the Sparks, but they pushed on to find that winning goal.
Manila’s persistence paid off in the game’s final stages when Dizon was adjudged to be fouled in the Kaya box by defender Alfred Osei. Up stepped Minniecon, who made no mistake to dispatch the penalty in the 85th minute and claim his second goal of the evening.
Meralco sealed the 2-1 derby scalp of Kaya, and the result propelled them back to first in the standings with 30 points. In contract, Kaya’s seven-game unbeaten streak comes to an end and they’re now in third place with 27 points.
There will only be one game scheduled on Wednesday, August 9, as Ilocos United host JPV Marikina.