UFL League 2016
|April 30, 2016||7:45 PM||United Football League First Division||2016|
|Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium|
|Adriatico Street, Malate, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines|
A late Ceres fightback wasn’t enough as Loyola Meralco Sparks defeated Ceres-La Salle 3-2 last April 30 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. James Younghusband, Curt Dizon, and Alvaro Castiella scored for the Sparks while Jeong Woo Lee and Stephan Shrock converted for Ceres.
Both teams played without their key players with Phil Younghusband and Jason de Jong for Loyola. Adrian Gallardo, Bienve Maranon, Martin Steuble, Juani Guirado, and Captain Sang Min Kim were unavailable for various reasons for Ceres. Loyola started well, getting better of the possession of shots in the early going. They were rewarded in the 15th when Kou Belgira broke away on the left laying off to Castiella who then released a pass to James Younghusband who made no mistake for the opening goal.
Ceres pushed for the equalizer led by Shrock, but the stubborn Loyola defense was there to defend their advantage. Some lights in the stands went off near the 30th minute mark causing a long delay for the match. The delay allowed Ceres to adjust as Yong Chan Son provided a near equalizer. The Ceres defender overlapped on the right into space, faked his defender and unleashed a left footed shot that was inches wide.
The Busmen would be rewarded in the 40th minute when Orman Okuinaya skipped past his defender on the right making a timely pass to a darting Lee who was on a 1v1 with the keeper. Lee controlled the ball with a touch and then blasted it to the back of the net past Tomas Trigo.
The half would end with blistering pace as both teams looked for a winner. Dizon breezed past Jeff Christaens and cuts back to Castiella whose shot hit the top corner of the post. Okunaiya initiated a run in the middle passing to an open Patrick Reichelt on the wings who then passed the ball to Lee. Lee’s shot however was saved by the Loyola keeper. The Sparks would score in injury time after Dizon outran his defender and connected to a long ball making the score 2-1 at the half.
Loyola almost made it three in the restart when Younghusband recovered a cross near the goal line with another Loyola player heading a ball back in to the middle to Castiella who’s shot was saved. Ceres had their own chance in the 49th when Shrock beautifully controlled a long ball towards Lee whose twenty yard shot was tapped out for a corner.
The Meralco-backed squad were again dangerous in the 54th when a top of the box free kick by James Younghusband hit the wall and spun towards Castiella. His open shot however was way over. The Bacolod squad almost had an equalizer when Okunaiya’s long ball was headed by Reichelt to a rushing Manny Ott but his shot was just wide. Castiella had a chance in the 63rd when he got the ball on the edge of the box, faked a turn, with his attempt a foot off target.
Ceres-La Salle would find the back of the net on the 66th when Jason Sabio directed a header to the top corner. The linesman however raised the flag for offside. Moments later, Simon Greatwich outsmarted two defenders and then sent a cross in the box which was cleared towards Castiella who punts the ball in for the 3-1 lead. Ceres had a great chance to get a goal back in the 74th when Lee laid off to Shrock in the box. The Azkals player faked a shot with his right then switched to his other foot but his shot hit the top of the crossbar and out.
The Bacolodnon’s had another chance in the 84th when a Ceres player was fouled on the edge of the Loyola box. Shrock stepped in to take the free kick blasting a rocket that would hit the bottom of the crossbar and in to make the score 3-2. Ceres-La Salle fought for another equalizer in the final minutes but Loyola defended well till the final whistle to deal Ceres an opening day loss.
“We came out short. Maybe because of the schedule, four days from AFC game plus travel. They did their best but we really came up short because of those factors like were gonna play two games in a week. Its pretty tough,” said Ceres Coach Franklin Muescan. “We still salute the boys. They gave their best. Even up to the last minute, we still convert the goal. It’s really the heart of Ceres. But again there’s no excuse,” he added.
Ceres-La Salle will now set their sights on their final AFC Cup Group match on May 10 against Sheikh Jamal in Bacolod. They will resume their United Football League campaign on May 14 against Nomads.