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MANILA, Philippines - Global FC was denied a rare league and cup double after Stallion FC dealt the league champions with a 2-1 defeat to clinch the UFL Cup Monday night, December 17 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The win gave Stallion its first major title after pulling through in the group stages, where they eliminated reigning cup champions Philippine Air Force, and beating Gen. Trias and Green Archers United FC in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.
Skipper Ruben Doctora Jr., who also received the Golden Ball award for being the Most Valuable Player, began the festivities with the opening goal in the 24th minute.
The reigning league champions answered right away with the equalizer seconds after the restart after Izzo El Habib scored with a volley in the 25th minute to even the scoreline.
The challengers were given a scare at halftime after Doctora had to be substituted for injuring his ankle. Jovanie Simpron duly replaced the skipper and inspired the side as they looked to retake the lead in the second half.
Simpron rose to the occasion, playing on mark as soon as the second half began, and pressuring the Global defense at times having a chance on goal.
The search for the second goal finally ended as Pi Young Jae found the in-form Rufino Sanchez inside the penalty area, sending a cross from the right side towards the far post, allowing the Spanish striker to put the ball past keeper Roland Sadia as Stallion retook the lead in the 60th minute.
Known for their ‘never say die’ attitude, Global tried to force extra time with an equalizer, but it was not meant to be.
Wilson Munoz pulled a last ditch save to deny El Habib the equalizer in the dying seconds of the match, confirming the Iloilo based team as the newly crowned champions of the UFL Cup.
Stallion coach Ernie Nierras was happy about the victory, and considered his team finally part of the elite after winning the title at the expense of the current league champions.
“This is what we really wanted. We felt we’ll be able to play our best when we play Global."
“Overall, it was a good performance. We’re able to maintain possession and got a huge contribution from Doctora, who for me is the most important player in the team,” he added.
Doctora also gave his thanks to the team, the staff and the fans especially after scoring the first goal of the match.
“Nung nakagoal ako, naisip ko na kami na ang mananalo (I thought that if I scored, we would win),” said the Iloilo native.
For the league champions Global, coach Dan Palami wasted no time sulking.
“We need to move on, and make some changes (in the offseason) to make us stronger,” he said. - Rappler.com