The tight battle for the second place between Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Global FC in the 2015 United Football League (UFL) at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Wednesday ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Last year’s UFL champions Global FC began aggressively after the opening whistle with striker Izo Elhabib attempting to score a goal in the ninth minute following a failed clearance off a corner by the Loyola back-line.
Coach Leigh Manson’s wards banked on their early goal conversion to gain momentum and initiate raids on the territory of Loyola while the latter relied on counter-attacks to keep their opponents at bay.
During the 31st minute, Misagh Bahadoran exposed a gap on Loyola’s defense as he slipped through the area of experimental right-back James Younghusband establishing a 2-0 lead for Global.
A few minutes later, the Sparks retaliated as Brad Grayson converted the ricocheting ball off an assist by Joaquin Cañas to cut down Global’s advantage to just a solitary goal going into the halftime break.
Cañas and Grayson again scored another goal for the Sparks as the latter completed a brace bringing the score to 2-2 in the 55th minute.
Before the expiration of the 90-minute regulation, winger OJ Clariño was taken down by defender Eddie Mallari deep inside the box prompting the match official to award a penalty kick as the game entered stoppage period.
Daisuke Sato took the shot from the penalty spot but Loyola’s first choice goalkeeper Tomas Trigo blocked ball.
With the draw, Global and Loyola are still tied with 31 points each with the former holding on to a slim lead on goal difference.
Meanwhile, Kaya FC dispatched Team Socceroo FC, 6-0, earlier in the day to position themselves within striking distance from the number two spot.
Global FC and Kaya FC are scheduled to meet in the second game on Saturday while Loyola faces Green Archers United FC in the first game as they battle anew for the bridesmaid position in this year’s UFL.