Global, Loyola set for PFF-Smart finals showdown

MANILA, Philippines- Global FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC overcame their foes in the semi final round of the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championship at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Thursday, January 29.

Loyola FC escaped Stallion FC, 2-1, in extra time to qualify for the finals of the national football tilt.

Stallion came out of the gates hungry to notch a win and qualify for the coveted final following a series of attacks to knock on the door of Loyola.

On the other end, however, a crazy sequence off a counter attack lead to a goal conversion from the Sparks care of Matthew Hartmann, who managed to find the back of the net in the middle of a sea of defenders.

After a few attempts on goal, Stallion’s offense finally came up with an answer following a shot by Simone Rota from the far right to tie the score at 1-1 before the end of the first half.

The two clubs went at it during the second half of action with both squads getting pristine chances to tally a game winner but no goal was sank until the end of regulation sending the heated affair into extra time.

Tides turned when Phil Younghusband scored the deciding goal off a free kick from just above the box after an unruly tackle from the Stallion defense that lead to the sending off of Sean Bateau due to a red card.

Stallion mustered the last remaining drops of gas on their tanks to trigger a run to tie the game before the end of the extra period but the pesky defense of Loyola denied all their chances.

Meanwhile, Global FC eliminated defending national champs Ceres FC, 3-1, late in the added period to power themselves to the finals of the tournament.

Ceres served a dose of nightmare for the UFL champs after converting a mere two minutes into the match as Manny Ott hit his mark straight from the corner to take the 1-0 lead early in the first half.

As a result, the furious Global side exhausted all efforts to come up with an equalizer spearheaded by two high caliber strikers Mark Hartmann and Izo El Habib but came up empty handed until the end of the first 45 minutes.

The rivalry match between the two top clubs in the local football scene continued for the second half with Hartmann etching his name into the score sheet with the help of Misagh Bahadoran.

A few minutes before the 90-minute mark, Global FC conceded a penalty after substitute Richard Talaroc, who came in for the 79th minute for Hikaru Minegeshi, committed a foul on Patrick Reichelt inside the box.

Azkals standout Martin Steuble, who is making his debut for his new local club Ceres, took the penalty but missed the would-be game winning shot causing the match to go into extra period.

The Bacolod-based booters took the steering wheel going into the added period but Global FC keeper Patrick Deyto stood his ground and tapped away their chances.

Come the final minutes of the meeting between the two clubs, Global broke away from the shackles of the Ceres FC defense and flicked in two consecutive goals coming from Dennis Villanueva on the 111th minute and Hartmann on the 114th

The final round bout between Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Global FC will be held on Saturday, January 31, at the RMFS, 7pm. -