MANILA, Philippines – After dispatching Kaya FC earlier in the second round, Green Archers United made the most out of their man advantage as they pulled off another thrilling upset, this time against the league-leading Loyola Meralco Sparks, 2-1, in the 2014 United Football League on Saturday, March 22, at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City.
And just like in their win against David Perkovic’s side 11 days ago, GAU once again needed all the 90 minutes to clinch the win after they trailed the Sparks for most of the match.
Down by a goal after Lee Joo Young opened the scoring for Loyola in the 50th minute, the Green Archers pounced on the Sparks’ crucial blunders as Robert Lopez Mendy restored parity 84 minutes into the game before substitute Jesus Melliza hit the 90th minute winner – towing their squad to 16 points to retain strong grip on the fifth position on the table.
Loyola Meralco took off to an aggressive start as they tested GAU’s defense right from the get-go, with James Younghusband and Matt Hartmann getting half-chances, but Azkals keeper Patrick Deyto remained solid in between the sticks to keep the match scoreless at the halftime break.
The Sparks’ perseverance, however, paid off in the 50th when Lee struck in from close range to put Loyola on top, 1-nil.
Younghusband then came close to doubling Loyola’s lead when he tried to curl one in but his 61stminute attempt sailed just inches wide to the relief of GAU.
Looking more and more comfortable on the ball, the Sparks hit a speed bump when they were reduced to 10 men after Peter Fadrigalan was slapped with a straight red card 66 minutes into the match.
Capitalizing on that huge Loyola gaffe, the Green Archers leveled in the 84th when Baba Sampana spilled his save on Melliza’s shot, giving Mendy enough space to drill in the equalizer.
GAU looked deadly in the last 10 minutes as Mendy nearly put his team up after an 87th minute free kick. Melliza completed the Green Archers’ rousing comeback when he scored the last-gasp winner in the 90th minute of the match.
The win improved GAU’s slate to 4-4-5 and narrows their gap with the reigning champions Stallion, who are currently fourth in the standings.
Meanwhile, Loyola absorbs only its second loss this season, but it might come as a huge blow as Global FC will have a chance to grab the top spot if they win against Pachanga on March 25.
GAU will try to ride momentum when they face Team Socceroo in their next assignment on March 27 while the Sparks will hope to bounce back against Stallion on the same day. -