by Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines – Daisuke Sato struck early as Global FC held off Loyola Meralco Sparks FC in a clash of contenders, 1-0, to firm up its hold of the lead in the UFL League tournament at Rizal Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Sato eluded multiple defenders before sending it home at the 11th minute to give Global the cushion for its fourth straight victory at the expense of fancied Loyola Meralco for a league-leading 12 points.
The Sparks, who turned up the heat on offense in the second half with ace Phil Younghusband coming off the bench in his first game out of sick bay, suffered their maiden setback after a 2-0 start and shared second spot with idle JP Voltes (six points).
Global captain Misagh Bahadoran lauded his teammates for staying focused and relentless in the midst of a tight schedule this week marred by a burglary at their locker rooms last Thursday.
“Great performance even though we had three games in a week and we lost our phones and wallets two days before the game. The guys showed how professional and hardworking they are both inside and outside the pitch,” said Bahadoran.
Sparks defender Anton del Rosario suffered an injury in the same sequence where Sato knocked in the marginal goal for Global in the first half. Global nearly doubled the lead when a penalty kick was awarded but Ivan Petrovic sent it wide.
The Sparks came out more aggressive in the second half but James Younghusband, Simon Greatwich and Alvaro Castiella didn’t hit the target. Phil Younghusband, who last saw action in the Cup, was unexpectedly sent in and energized the team but still the Sparks couldn’t buy the equalizer.
Meanwhile, Nate Burkey fired a hat- trick as Ceres La Salle FC picked up its first win via a 6-0 drubbing of Manila Nomads.
Burkey found the back of the net at the second, 14th and 86th minutes to lead the scorching attack that also saw Orman Okunaiya (44’), Bienve Marañon (79’), and Marvin Angeles (70’) joining the scoring fray.