Karl Decena, InterAKTV
The Loyola Meralco Sparks pulled off yet another shocking result, this time spoiling Stallion Sta.Lucia’s title celebration after forcing a 1-1 draw in United Football League action Tuesday at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill in Taguig.
Needing just a victory to hoist the League crown, Stallion looked poised to win the match all the way after Lee Joo Young took advantage of a poor clearance by Loyola inside the box which led to a goal at the 18th minute.
With Stallion holding a 1-nil edge at the 37th minute, officials were forced to suspend the match for 30 minutes after heavy rain poured at the venue. The match eventually resumed after the weather condition improved.
The Sparks came out roaring after the lull as James Younghusband buried a header off a long-range dish by Matthew Hartmann two minutes into added time to tie the match, 1-1, at the break.
Stallion then unleashed its attacking prowess throughout the second half, drilling shot after shot at the expense of the Loyola defense. However, Sparks goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma was there to deny any goal, saving at least nine shots.
After several misses, Stallion kept on finding shots on goal, but just couldn’t finish due to Cuaresma’s brilliant goalkeeping. Striker Rufo Sanchez had one last chance before the final whistle, but the Loyola keeper denied it once again.
The result spoiled Stallion’s hopes of securing its first League crown right away, grabbing only 46 points after a 15-1-2 win-draw-loss card to finish the season.
That means defending champion Global FC, which has 40 points and still has two matches left, still has a chance to snatch the title by winning its last two games and beating Stallion in goal differential.
Loyola, which also stunned Global last week with a 2-0 victory, finished third place for the second straight season with an 11-5-2 card for 38 points.