Eric Giganto blasted the match-winner in the dying moments as Kaya FC-Makati edged out rival FC Meralco Manila, 2-1, in the third Metro Manila derby of the Philippines Football League (PFL) on Saturday at the University of Makati Football Stadium.
Substitute forward Giganto fired from the top of the penalty box with his left foot in the 89th minute to power Kaya Makati to its first win against the league-leading Meralco Manila.
“I came off the bench and I knew that the coaching staff had a lot of expectations of me. So when I came in, I just did my best and performed my game. A goal, a win, it’s such a nice feeling,” beamed Giganto.
With their third straight victory and 12th overall in 23 matches, the second-running Lions improved to 41 points, just three markers away from the pole position.
Sparks’ head coach Aris Caslib rued their missed chances in the crucial second half as they absorbed their third loss against 13 wins and five draws, still good for 44 points on the top spot.
“We had more chances but we weren’t able to capitalize. Kaya had less, but it was quality in the end,” lamented Caslib, whose wards saw their seven-game unbeaten run snapped.
Jordan Mintah continued to showcase his scoring arsenal, burying the opener for the home side with 22 minutes past the kickoff.
But Lee Jeong Min equalized for the capital club in the 37th as the Korean defender finely controlled a lob pass from Tahj Minniecon with his chest before firing from close range.
With the tight game looking to head into a stalemate, Mintah and Giganto connected for the match-winning goal that sent the Kaya hopefuls to a raucous celebration.
The Ghanaian striker fed a sneaky through ball to the Davaeño, who feigned a Meralco defender inside the box before striking the ball past goalkeeper Junjun Badelic seconds before the stoppage time.
Meanwhile, Ceres Negros FC routed Ilocos United FC, 5-0, at the Panaad Park and Stadium to steal the third spot from rival Global Cebu FC.
Stephan Shrock struck a brace while Carli De Murga, Bienvenido Marañon and Fernando Rodriguez each scored a goal as the Yellow Busmen hiked their record to 11-2-3 win-draw-loss for 35 points, one marker clear of Global Cebu.
Ilocos United was unable to sustain the momentum from its breakthrough win last week as it remained at the cellar with seven points after suffering its 16th setback.
Over at the Biñan Football Stadium, Davao Aguilas FC elicited a 2-2 draw with home team Stallion Laguna FC.
Aguilas’ stalwarts Phil and James Younghusband netted one goal apiece to negate the brace of Stallions’ Fitch Arboleda as the two clubs split the points for the second time in as many encounters this season.
Stallion Laguna squandered the chance to surpass JPV Marikina FC as the Biñan-based booters stayed on No. 6 with 27 points and an inferior goal difference compared to the Marikeños.
Davao remained as the only winless squad among the eight-club field as Marlon Maro’s men wound up with their eighth draw in 18 games.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA