Global Cebu FC put up a valiant stand but came up short in the end as it bowed down to defending champion Albirex Niigata FC (S) in penalty shootout, 1-3, in the final game of the 20th RHB Singapore Cup on Saturday night at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The People’s Club buried two equalizers to force a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes of play but went on misfiring in the decisive shootout, allowing the White Swans to seize their third straight Singapore Cup title.
Global Cebu’s runner-up finish was nonetheless a historic feat as the Visayan squad was the first Filipino club to enter the championship match of the annual tournament.
Global pulled off a 4-3 aggregate victory over Hougang United FC to book its remarkable ticket to the final fixture.
Albirex Niigata was the first to get into the scoreboard as forward Tsubasa Sano completed a series of passes with a strike in the 32nd minute.
Just three minutes past the restart, Global leveled the scoreline after Brazilian defender Wesley Dos Santos headed home a well-placed cross by Hikaru Minegishi from the right flank.
Both squads were not able to find the match-winning goal for the rest of the regulation, leading to a 30-minute extra time.
Albirex opened up the scoring anew in the extension period with Kento Nagasaki’s deflected shot finding the back of the net in the 95th.
But the Filipino booters refused to go quiet into the night as Paolo Salenga beat goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa in the 109th, nodding in another equalizer off a cross by Minegishi.
The extra time was not enough to separate the two sides and the tightly-contested match went down the penalty shootout, wherein the Singaporean powerhouse team prevailed.
Nagasaki, Shoichiro Sakamoto and Naofumi Tanaka made no mistake from the spot after Sano shot over the crossbar in the first attempt.
Azkals standout Minegishi was the only one who converted for Global while Dos Santos, Salenga and Darryl Roberts missed their shots.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA