Loyola Meralco Sparks bag PFF-Smart national title

MANILA, Philippines- Loyola Meralco Sparks FC capped off an impressive run by snatching the 2014-2015 Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championship trophy away from Global FC, 2-0, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Saturday, January 31.

The Sparks managed to corral the offensive prowess of the defending league champs of the country’s top-flight football tournament after denying the latter’s chances of capturing the elusive crown.

During the start of the match, Loyola proved to be the hungrier team, sending several shots to test the defensive line of Global FC but still went scoreless after few attempts.

Global, meanwhile, tried to answer back with few shots from their side but the sturdy hands of Tomas Trigo prevented them from sinking a goal between the sticks.

To the dismay of the Loyola fans present, star striker Phil Younghusband was stretchered off the pitch after going down in the 12th minute, prompting coach Simon Mcmenemy to shuffle his frontline and send in Graham Caygill as an early substitute.

Sans their prolific forward, Meralco took their rivals’ defense by surprise after Eddie Mallari broke the goal-less silence, hitting his mark at the bottom corner of the net in the 18th minute.

On the other end, Global FC dug deep into their arsenal to find the effective blitz to get through the pesky defense of the foes but their chances failed to find the back of the net.

After numerous exchanges of attacks, another offensive sequence came through for Loyola FC care of Matthew Hartmann in the 57th minute to double the edge of his club at 2-0.

It went downhill for the Sparks after the goal by Hartmann as they continued to deny the Global FC of tallying a goal for their club until the end of regulation.

Head coach Simon Mcmenemy, best known for the impressive semifinal run of the Azkals back in the 2010, notched his first professional coaching trophy and steered Loyola towards their first national title.

To top off the win and the title, stalwarts of Loyola also bagged awards as Trigo was named as best goalkeeper, Matthew Hartmann was given the golden ball and best midfielder trophy and Joaquin Canas was hailed as the tournament’s best defender.

Global’s Izo Elhabib topped all the scorers of the nationwide football tilt with 7 goals and was chosen as the best striker.

Lastly, former two-time champs Ceres-La Salle FC dumped Stallion FC, 5-0, to take the third place honor of the tourney. - Rappler.com