MANILA, Philippines – It has been this kind of story for Loyola this season.
After getting off to a blazing start in the 2014 United Football League, the Loyola Meralco Sparks slowly lost steam as other teams caught up and even overtook them in the table.
And on Tuesday night, April 29, against Global, they held the lead for most of the match, only to squander all their hardwork in the second half.
In what could be the title decider this season, Global FC pulled off a spectacular come-from-behind 2-1 win over Loyola as they tightened their grip of the top spot as the season approaches its close.
Without one of the most lethal scorers in the league in Phil Younghusband, the Sparks banked on his brother James who did not disappoint and put Loyola on the driver seat in the 33rd, igniting fanfare in the orange-clad section of the Emperador Stadium.
Noise from the Loyola fans intensified 65 minutes into the match when Baba Sampana foiled a Mark Hartmann penalty that preserved the Sparks’ hairline lead for a few moments more.
Loyola’s celebration, however, did not last until the final whistle as they saw their lead vanish into thin air, turning into a one-goal deficit in just a span of two minutes.
Halftime substitute Misagh Bahadoran – who was snubbed in the last few matches of the National Team – sent a strong message tonight as he punctured Sampana’s defense and restored parity in the 66th minute.
Less than two minutes later, Izzo El Habib put the dagger to Loyola fans’ hearts as he scored the go-ahead goal that sucked the fighting spirit out of the Sparks.
Loyola was simply hapless in the final 20 minutes as they could not keep up with the feisty Global side.
Global FC increases their tally to 44 points to widen their gap from Loyola – who dropped to their fourth loss this season – to five points and get in the cusp of winning it all in this year’s league competition.
Green Archers 2, Pasargad 1
Meanwhile, in the first game of the night, Chieffy Caligdong – who suffered an injury midway in this season – made his UFL comeback as an hour-mark substitute in Green Archers United 2-1 win over Pasargad.
But it was Robert Lopez Mendy’s brace that brought GAU to 26 points courtesy of goals in the eighth and 38th minute.
PSG, which extends its winless skid to 12 games, received a 33rd minute consolation goal from Mohsen Akbari Sarabi, but they will need to pull off a miracle if they are to stay in the top flight.
Loyola and Green Archers United will square off on May 3 while Global wraps up its 2014 season against Philippine Army on May 4. - Rappler.com