A HOT-STARTING Pachanga-Diliman avoided a collapse as it repulsed Stallion, 5-3, to complete the semifinal cast and put an end to its opponent's reign as champion in the United Football League Cup on Thursday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
The former Division 2 champions built an early two-goal lead before staving off the Stallions' rally to arrange a Final Four duel with Cinderella team Air Force.
Loyola Meralco and Green Archers United are the two other semifinalists in the other side of the bracket.
"This was a battle of pride, respect, and protection of the team. And I'm happy the guys responded," said Pachanga coach Noel Marcaida, whose team is assured of another impressive finish after it wound up in the top half of the League table in its maiden top-flight campaign earlier this year.
Center-back Andrew Santiago ended up as the unlikely scoring leader as he took advantage of numerous scoring opportinities to finish with a brace, including the first goal off a rebound right in the first minute of the game.
After Ousseynou Diop quickly doubled the lead five minutes later with a strike off a David Cortina assist, the Stallions began their comeback in what turned out to be an unexpected high-scoring playoff affair.
OJ Clariño, a former Pachanga booter, closoed the gap for his new team with an 18th-minute strike, before Junior Muñoz equalized for the Stallions in the 32nd minute.
Pachanga regained the lead six minutes into the second half when Reza Amirkhizan scored, before Santiago completed his two-goal effort in the 64th.
After Balot Doctora pulled a goal back for Stallion three minutes later, Ariel Zerrudo joined the scoring parade with a left-footed finish off an Anto Gonzales pass.
"I'm disappointed because we gave up goals we shouldn't have. Hats off to Pachanga," said Stallions coach Ernie Nierras, whose team has reeled from the departute of standouts Lee Joo Young and Joaco Cañas as well as disputed player Rufo Sanchez.