After a lull week due to the international break, the Philippines Football League resumed action with four matches in store this past weekend. Kaya-Makati’s clash with fierce rivals Meralco-Manila took center stage and rightly got the ball rolling in the league’s sixth week.
As hosts of the first Metro Manila derby of the season, Kaya-Makati had a reputation to protect at home as they have yet to lose a game in the University of Makati Football Field this season. Unwilling to let Meralco-Manila bully them in their own backyard, Kaya held their own. Unfortunately, their resistance was broken just before the break when Joaco Cañas put the finishing touches for the Sparks in the 43rd minute.
Things just got from bad to worse for Kaya-Makati early on in the second half as the physical match got the better of Jordan Mintah inside the box. His challenge on Milan Nikolic merited a red card and a spot kick for the league leaders. Phil Younghusband made no mistake from 12 yards to cushion Meralco-Manila’s advantage. In the end, the Makati club failed to find the back of the net as they suffered their first derby loss at home in the PFL era.
On the other side of the city, JP Voltes-Marikina entertained the stellar cast of Ceres-Negros in what proved to be the most entertaining clash of the week. The Busmen came into the game as the favorites, but the Marikina side did not let that stop them from troubling the 2015 champions.
Their strong showing rewarded them with a valuable lead twelve minutes after the restart, when Takumi Uesato smashed a penalty he won past Roland Müller. Voltes then withstood a stern Ceres fight back to preserve their precious lead. Able to take advantage of the Busmen’s high line, J Baguioro supplied a cool finish to double his team’s lead. Bienvenido Marañon pulled one back for Ceres-Negros but it was merely a consolation effort as Voltes emerged 2-1 winners at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The following day, Global-Cebu paid a visit up north to Ilocos United’s Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. The last UFL champions proved to be a force too strong for the newcomers. The Cebuanos scored three times within eight, first-half minutes to swiftly extinguish the home team’s challenge. Paul Mulders scored from the spot while Shu Sasaki netted a brace to lift Global up into the standings.
Before the skirmish in Ilocos, Stallion-Laguna took on Davao Aguilas as both teams remain in the hunt for their first win of the season. The visitors would have picked up all three points had it not been for Nikola Grubjesic’s misfortune in the 70th minute. The Serbian only managed to hit the woodwork, much to the relief of the hosts. It was the closest either team managed from breaking the deadlock, with the match ending the same way it began at 0-0.
After Week 6, Meralco-Manila keep their impressive record intact as they have won all of their five matches this season. Breathing down their necks are JP Voltes-Marikina and Kaya-Makati, who have 12 and 10 points respectively. Global-Cebu round off the top four by notching their seventh point in four matches.
Four teams will return to action on Wednesday as Davao Aguilas return home to play against Meralco-Manila at 4PM. Three hours later, Ilocos United will host JP Voltes-Marikina.
Photo from FC Meralco-Meralco’s Facebook page