Darryl Roberts bagged a monumental brace as his efforts towed Global-Cebu, who finished the match a man down, to a 2-1 victory (4-3 aggregate) over Hougang United in the second leg of the 2017 Singapore Cup semifinals Saturday evening in the city state.
It was indeed third time lucky for the Filipinos as they finally broke down the semifinal barrier.
Having been at this stage twice before, Global had had to settle for a third place game instead of a final. Having been eliminated by Tanjong Pagar and Albirex Niigata S before, Global would not let another local team stop them from making it to the final, and their determination on the night truly showed.
The winning goal came 18 minutes before time, when the former Sparta Rotterdam marksman found the back of the net in spectacular fashion. Prior to that, plenty of drama took place, as the sides entered the second leg level at 2-2.
The man from Trinidad and Tobago got both goals in Wednesday’s first leg, and was at it again 13 minutes into the match. All thanks to the cleverness of Paolo Salenga, Roberts opened the scoring with a nifty header past Cheetahs goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.
Not to be outdone, the hosts gradually wrested control of the game’s pace. Amidst their search for an equalizer, Global could have padded their slender lead. Paul Mulders threatened to do that twice but the one-time ADO Den Haag player wasn’t able to find his way around the defense.
Meanwhile, Pablo Rodriguez began muscling his way for Hougang. The 32 year-old striker forced Patrick Deyto into action when the Philippines international goalkeeper made a reflex save to deny the Spaniard in the 38th minute. A minute later, however, Rodriguez got even with the Filipino as he sneaked a well-placed shot past Jerry Barbaso then Deyto.
The score remained 1-1 at the half and for the majority of the second half. Both sides produced decent openings to break the deadlock. Rodriguez came closest for Hougang, while Bugas nearly made his counterpart pay only to be denied by the Singaporean goalkeeper. The two chances aforementioned came within a minute of each other. As both keepers looked sharp, everyone knew it would take something really special to score the breakthrough goal.
Entering the last 20 minutes of play, Global were dealt a huge blow after Dennis Villanueva was shown the red card for a second billable offense. It proved to be a blessing in disguise eventually, as the resulting free kick allowed Global to score their second goal moments later. Routinely gathering the ball from the set piece, Deyto expertly located Roberts who then nodded the ball cleanly over Khalid and into the net. Against the run of play, Global managed to restore a lead they had 18 minutes later.
As expected, Hougang played with more urgency, but unfortunately time was not an ally. Disciplined defending by the visitors nullified the Cheetahs’ advances and when the fourth minute of added time was over, the final whistle was blown. It signaled the first time in the competition’s history that a club from the Philippines will contest the final.
Waiting for Global in the last dance is a familiar foe: club Albirex Niigata, from Singapore-based affiliate of J-League, the team that prevented them from making it this far two seasons ago.