Three games took place on the final day of September 2017 in the Philippines Football League, with a Metro Manila derby taking center stage. Matches in Negros and Laguna completed the schedule, with Global’s Singapore Cup participation meaning a match with JPV-Marikina will be played at a later date.
Here’s how each match unfolded this weekend:
Late Eric Giganto goal earns Kaya-Makati bragging rights over Meralco-Manila, 2-1
In a heated derby day collision, Kaya-Makati emerged victorious against Meralco-Manila, 2-1, Saturday afternoon at the University of Makati Football Field, all thanks to Eric Ben Giganto’s decisive finish in the penultimate minute of the match.
It was a deserved win for the home side, who began the match more positively than their opponents. Usual suspects Robert Lopez Mendy, Kenshiro Daniels, and Jordan Mintah were in the thick of things, and the latter two combined well to unlock an organized Meralco defense. Daniels did well to move to the byline after shrugging off a challenge. He then set up Mintah, whose finish gave Kaya-Makati fans a reason to celebrate.
The league leaders looked for a response, ideally before halftime, and got what they were eyeing just before the half-hour mark. Lee Jeong Min’s neat finish from a set piece restored parity in the match. It would stay that way until the break.
The physical nature of the encounter limited players from creating plenty of opportunities, so profligacy in front of goal would cost anyone dearly. That looked to be the case in the end, as one team converted while the other failed to do so. In the 79th minute, Meralco’s Tahj Minniecon came up with a great opportunity to complete the turnaround, but former Sparks goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma did enough to rattle the Australian. Despite managing to shoot, Minniecon missed the target.
It was Giganto’s turn 10 minutes later and unlike Minniecon, the former FEU Tamaraw clinically buried his strike. “I’m so happy. Hindi ko na expect na ma-shoo-shoot ko yun because, it came from nowhere. Winning goal pa, so I want to thank God. When I looked forward, I saw a defender. When I went to shoot, the angle was too tight. I faked it, put it towards my left, and then fired,” he shared to Kaya FC media.
A fitting way to finish the derby, as Kaya-Makati moved closer to rivals Meralco-Manila in the table. Having played a game more, Makati have 41 points — just three less than their Manila rivals.
Davao Aguilas gains share of the spoils to frustrate Stallion-Laguna, 2-2
Only a late Phil Younghusband penalty conversion could both save Davao Aguilas’ faces and deny Stallion-Laguna the chance to get back to winning ways, as the Philippines’ leading goalscorer secured yet another measly point that will not please either side. The match finished 2-2 on Saturday afternoon at the Biñan Sports Complex, and with fewer games remaining on the calendar, it might be safe to say the two sides’ opportunities to reach the playoffs are nixed.
Davao’s investment in the transfer window signified their intentions to breach the playoffs barrier, but unfortunately for them, nothing of equal magnitude has materialized. The same cannot be said of Stallion-Laguna, who remain proud of fielding majority of homegrown talent despite tapping a couple of foreign reinforcements.
With the defense concentrating on Jhan-Jhan Melliza, it was Fitch Arboleda who provided the goods for Stallion-Laguna. The former UE Red Warrior opened the scoring nine minutes before the end of the first half. Off a broken Davao play, the hosts launched a swift attack, which the Azkal finished in style.
Davao needed someone to get them on the scoresheet, and this is where their decision to sign Phil Younghusband looks shrewd. The former Meralco-Manila talisman leveled the scores approaching the business end of the match in the 66th minute. It almost went for naught, though, as Arboleda quickly responded to bring Stallion back in front.
A costly mistake in the end stopped the home team from winning the match, as they allowed Davao to level once more from the spot. As he has done throughout his career, Phil Younghusband drilled the kick past Benito Rosalia in the last minute of the match. The stalemate isn’t the result either team was looking for, as they now have mountains of different scales to climb to reach the top four.
Ceres-Negros makes quick work of Ilocos United
Ceres-Negros made sure opponents Ilocos United were powerless to record a second consecutive away victory when the Busmen smashed the Ilocanos, 5-0, Saturday evening at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.
Coming off a huge win last week, Ilocos United looked forward to going toe-to-toe with Ceres. They had a week to prepare for the occasion, but it seems like they needed more time, as the hosts ravaged the visiting team’s chances as early as five minutes in. Bienvenido Marañon’s instincts earned him the opening goal when he recovered a loose ball in the Ilocos United half before cleanly guiding it past Baba Sampana.
His compatriot Fernando Rodriguez joined him on the scoresheet 14 minutes later, when the Spaniard was in the right place at the right time to smash the ball into the net. The gulf in class between the two sides was evident and the home team made sure the score reflected that.
Carli de Murga got Ceres’ third through a set piece in the 29th minute, and Stephan Schröck added a cheeky fourth when his cross turned into a shot, wrong-footing the former Meralco goalkeeper. It was a long 45 minutes for Ilocos United, who perhaps deserved to at least put one into the net.
Before Schrock’s effort, Charlie Beaton had the chance to set up Arthur Kouassi inside the box. The latter unfortunately misguided his shot, to his team’s dismay. The only positive for Ilocos was that the halftime whistle sounded soon, allowing them to regroup for the next half.
In terms of goals conceded, Ilocos did much better in the second half, but that was not the only measure of their improvement. They also managed to string together a couple of decent chances from Beaton and Chima Uzoka. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make those rare opportunities count.
To add to their misfortunes, Ceres pocketed one more goal to sweetly finish off the match. Marañon set up Schröck to lead all scorers on the night with two goals.
The international break starting tomorrow means that PFL action will resume in the second week of October. Meralco will host Stallion, while Kaya will visit Ceres on Saturday, 14th of October. On the next day, Davao and Cebu will entertain the visiting JPV and Ilocos.