Defending champions Kaya FC overcomes the Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, 2-1, to qualify to the semifinals of the United Football League (UFL) Cup 2016 on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Kaya, marking its return to its mother league after two successful outings in the Asian Confederation (AFC) Cup group stage, escaped the Sparks with a final-minute goal.
The team relied of the late-game goal of high-scoring striker Robert Lopez Mendy in their plight to trounce bitter rivals and secure a seat in the semifinals.
However, it was Loyola which took the upper hand in the seven minutes before halftime as James Younghusband converted a heard off a free kick to give the squad a 1-0 advantage going into the break.
Kaya, on the other hand, had earlier chances of taking the front seat of the heated affair but the two close chances by Mendy in the first half failed to hit their mark.
As play resumed for the second half, both teams continued to trade blows with Kaya starting to pick-up their pace to start knocking on the goal of the Sparks.
Kaya finally found the equalizing goal 73rd minute of the contest as defender Masanari Omura shot a diving header off a corner to keep his team’s bid of retaining the UFL Cup alive.
Several close attempts were sent by the surging Kaya offense in the dying minutes of the game but it was Mendy’s surgical strike on the bottom left corner who sealed the victory for Kaya in the 89th minute.
Meanwhile, Stallion FC survived the stoppage time rally of the Chieffy Caligdong-powered Green Archers United FC in stoppage time, 3-2, during the first game.
The Stallions opened the match with a set-piece conversion in the 20th minute as Rota’s chance slipped past the hands of Green Archers goalkeeper Henri Fong.
It took quite a time before the Archers found an answer on the other end as Caligdong sank a stabbing ball off a free-kick in the 49th minute to level the score at 1-1.
Stallion retaliated just six minutes after as skipper Ruben Doctora capitalized on a rebound from a corner kick to head the ball in and retake the advantage for his club.
Young star Fitch Arboleda extended the edge of Stallion to 3-1 in the 88th minute after managing to tap the ball in from failed clearance from the Green Archers defense.
With just a few seconds left in regulation, Caligdong double his output to two goals with a sneaky shot from the edge of the box in the 90th minute.
The Green Archers refused to go down without a fight in the final minutes of extra time with a multitude of threatening shots from deep inside the box but their chances were put to waste as Stallion emerged triumphant in the match-up.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES