Match reports of UFL action in Rizal Memorial Football stadium.
Stallion-Sta. Lucia 3, Green Archers United Globe 1.
The UFL Cup holders kicked off their League campaign in style with a comfortable win over the Archers.
Goals by Rufo Sanchez, Prince Mark Boley and Park Bo Bae sunk the Green Archers, who were without Chieffy Caligdong. The Azkal was unable to return from international duty in time after playing against Myanmar on Wednesday.
Stallion was also missing a player to Azkals duty, midfielder Jason De Jong.
A sluggish performance by the Green Archers had an early bad omen, when a Lawrence Obinna backpass to Martin Villaflor in the 26th minute eluded the Archers goalkeeper thanks to the patchy turf and nearly went in before Villaflor recovered.
At the half hour mark Stallion went ahead 1-0 thanks to a goal by Rufo Sanchez. The Spanish striker calmly controlled an awkward ball to turn and volley for a score.
Three minutes later United coach Dolfo Alicante relieved right back Arvin Soliman of his duties in favor of regular starter Dodong Villareal.
But six minuted before halftime Boley made it 2-0 with a close-range shot after a deft flicked assist from Balot Doctora.
Three minutes after halftime the Archers got back into the game when new Japanese signing Dan Ito threaded a perfectly-weighted through ball that Dodz Pasinabo centered to an unmarked Jovanie Simpron. Simpron blasted it past Wilson Munoz for 2-1.
But in the 65th minute Park Bo Bae exploited some slovenly Archers defending to power home a third with a fine individual effort.
Sanchez flubbed two late chances that could have meant a rout for Stallion.
“We had mistakes in defense” said Alicante afterwards. “We had to stop their crosses and our marking was loose in the middle. We had no mobility in the attacking third and we didn't play our possession game, instead we'd go for the long ball.”
It was a ragged performance from centerbacks Jake Hugo and Obinna. On the offensive side Archers played a 4-5-1 formation, first with Pasinabo up top, then Tating Pasilan. But it was mostly for naught as the new-look Stallion team came up on top.
OTHER NOTES: Dan Ito is a 37-year old journeyman midfielder from Japan who is going for a world record of number of countries playing top flight Football. At the moment the Philippines is his 15th different country, including Japan. Ito had a video crew from Japan filming him. “The league is very tough and physical” he said after the game. Ito is on a three month contract and has been tasked with mentoring the Archers midfielders.... Archer Tommy Escoltero has “Tim Tim” on the back of his shirt, which is the name of his son.... According to Archers manager Monchu Garcia, Caligdong left Myanmar early Thursday morning but thanks to a long layover in Thailand, only arrived at 6:30 p.m., by which time the game was nearly over... Archers Simpron and Hugo were formerly from Stallion and transferred to United before the SMART PFF Club Championship.... Brazilian-Japanese TV celeb Daniel Matsunaga made a late appearance for Stallion.
Pachanga-Diliman 1, Kaya 0.
In the 94th minute of the game and trailing 1-0, Kaya were gifted a free kick outside the penalty area against Pachanga-Diliman. It was their last roll of the dice.
Antonio Ugarte lofted it into the six yard box, where it pinballed off some players to Kaya's Masanari Omura. The Japanese vet banged it goalward from close range for what looked like a late equalizer.
But Pachanga-Diliman's Allen Serna, or rather, the face of Allen Serna, stood in the ball's path.
The leather ricocheted off Serna's nose and harmlessly off to the side. The whistle blew just moments later, confirming that PD had indeed preserved the win. The dazed Serna was then mobbed by celebrating teammates.
It was a nailbiting end to what had been an otherwise dour contest.
The only goal came in the 28th minute from the penalty spot. PD's Ian Mariano collected a delicious through-ball from Boyet Canedo and was advancing towards goal in the box when Kaya defender Dario Dakic caught him from behind, causing the Guamanian to tumble.
Referee Allan Martinez pointed to the spot and PD's other Guamanian, captain Jason Cunliffe, poked the ensuing penalty kick into to the low right corner, outwitting Kaya keeper Saba Sadeghi Garmaroudi, who had leapt in the opposite direction.
Thirteen minutes later Boyet Canedo could have put PD 2-0 up but his lob over a mis-positioned Garmaroudi dropped agonizingly over the bar.
Canedo earned Man Of The Match honors for an influential evening full of neat passes and some chances as well.
Ousseynou Diop, coming off the bench for PD, nearly made it 2-0 in the 75th when he latched on to another gorgeous Canedo through ball, only to hook it wide left.
As always, Yves Ashime was solid in the back for Pachanga.
For Kaya, it was another frustrating loss and yet another punchless display from their attacking players.
The team was missing Azkals Chris Greatwich and Ohjay Porteria, who arrived from Myanmar in time for the match but did not play.
“We didn't come to the game” admitted coach Maor Rozen. “The experienced players of Pachanga managed the pace of the game well. But the players gave their maximum.”
“With me, Boyet, and Anto (Gonzales) we have a lot of experience in the midfield” said Cunliffe afterwards. “We have the parts to sneak in wins like this.”
Rozen put his trust in youngsters like Antonio King, Enzo Pinga, and Ugarte, who all got minutes in the game.
The Uruguayan also shuffled the deck, switching Eddie Mallari from right back to left back, dropping Janrick Soriano to defense, and inserting Anton Del Rosario, who is regaining fitness, into the midfield late. But alas, the equalizing goal never came.
OTHER NOTES: Pachanga's OJ Clarino came on as a second half substitute but his stay was short-lived. A collision that resulted in him getting yellow-carded left him with a twisted knee. He was stretchered off and replaced. He said afterwards that he hopes it is merely a sprain.... Serna needed ice on his face after his block on Omura's shot.... PD's Ernest Appiah was called for two foul throw-ins in the first half. On both attempts, which were meant to be long heaves towards the penalty area, his right foot went off the ground.... The Ultras Kaya not only cheered the team on throughout the game but could also be heard ten minutes after the final whistle.... This is the last UFL Division 1 match scheduled for Rizal Memorial. On Saturday the league plays in McKinley Hill, where Nomads clash with Air Force at 6pm.... Cunliffe has a huge tattoo on his chest with the word “Quitugua.” That is the Guamanian's mother's maiden name which also means “to fight against” in the Chamorro language.