UFL: Global complete smash-and-grab win over Stallions for solo lead
Coming off their late victory over the Air Force, but missing seven players to the Philippine national team Azkals, Global kept their winning streak alive in their toughest test of the season so far, pulling out a 1-0 win against the Stallions, Tuesday at the Emperador Stadium.
The Stallions on the flip side, came in boasting of a full squad, given Jason De Jong’s recent transfer to Global and had hoped to capitalize on that to climb above Global, following their 3-1 win over Pachanga last time out.
In front of probably the first time the Empy has been close to a full crowd, the Stallions had the better of the chances throughout the match, with Rufo Sanchez firing over or at Roland Sadia several times.
Despite the difference in possession, it was Global who found the back of the net in the only goal of the game in the 78th minute. Yu Hoshide whipped in the corner, which was met by the head of Izzo El Habbib, to nod down for his sixth goal of the season.
The game started quickly and at a high tempo as long balls and quick, incisive passing sent the play from end-to-end. In the ninth minute, Rufo Sanchez came close to opening the scoring as he worked the ball from under his feet and curled to the top corner, but Roland Sadia managed to claw the ball away.
Global pushed the play with the majority of possession, but they just lacked the final ball to create a clear-cut chance. Izzo El Habbib and Joaquin Canas got yellow cards early, the Spanish defender sliding in on the Global striker, wrapping his feet round the player and giving a little extra, but El Habbib reacted by trying to kick his legs. The referee dealt with it quickly though, and the game continued.
In the 21st minute, Stallions had a penalty shout as Rufo Sanchez knocked the ball over Carlos Guisso, who missed his header, and the forward looked as if he was dragged down by the Global defender, but nothing was given.
Neither side could break down the other with the Stallions missing Jason De Jong after his surprising loan switch to Global and Global’s national team call-ups leaving a bigger hole in their team. The Stallions began resorting to long shots as Lee Joo Young fired just over in the 36th minute before his next shot flew much further wide of the goal.
Global almost fired themselves in front in the 41st minute as Marvin Angeles shot wide, though Nino Ochoterena probably should have been booked for bringing down Joaco after chasing him down and blocking his path before Ben Starosta bundled over the defender just to underline that Global weren’t happy with him.
Rufo Sanchez then received a throw in on the left and wriggled past his defender, lobbing the ball off-balance over Roland Sadia who had left his line. Fortunately for him, and for Global, the shot from a very tight angle bounced off the crossbar and the teams went into the break goal-less.
Global started quickly out of the blocks as Ben Starosta was fed through on goal but his shot went just over the bar in the opening seconds. The Stallions threatened in the 49th minute as Balut Doctora latched onto a long through ball, and turned two defenders, but a third proved too many and Global recovered to snatch the ball away before he could get a shot off.
After Rufo Sanchez hit over a minute later, Sanchez managed to get a shot off under heavy pressure from Jerry Barbaso, but Roland Sadia got down quickly to hold onto the chance in the 64th minute.
Rufo Sanchez then made a run down the right, after Ben Starosta brought down his man in the 68th minute, and was found in a well-worked free-kick, but his cross wasn’t met by any of the men in the middle.
Subsequently, Bo Bae Park got booked in the 73rd minute for bringing down Izzo El Habbib 35-yards out, but the free-kick was easily cleared. Global were lacking a lot of fluidity and potency without their Azkals’ players flying down the wings or looking to create something in the middle.
Finally in the 78th minute, Yu Hoshide fired in a corner from the right and Izzo El Habbib rose highest in the middle to head down and into the goal, after losing his marker, in a game that had been largely uneventful up to that point.
It had needed a goal to bring this game to life and the Stallions almost responded immediately, the ball pinballing around the Global area before Rufo Sanchez blasted over. Roland Sadia then beat away Sanchez’s next shot in the 88th minute as the Stallions continued trying to find a way back into the game and onto level terms.
Valentine Kama gave away a cheap free-kick 30-yards out challenging in the air and getting a yellow card for his troubles. Another free-kick was given a moment later, Global profusely protesting the decision though replays suggested it was handball, with Izzo El Habbib signaling he needed to be substituted – eventually replaced by James Gardner.
This free-kick was only 20 yards out but still the Stallions couldn’t find a way through as the full-time whistle sounded soon after and Global took first blood in the league against the Stallions, though not before Roland Sadia tried to catch a cross, jumped back onto the goalpost instead, and wound down the clock with a little more time-wasting during nine minutes of extra-time.
What’s next for the teams
The three-horse title race continues for the UFL with little between Global, Loyola, and the Stallions. Global now leads the race two points clear of Loyola in second, after their earlier victory over the Green Archers, while the Stallions are in third after their first loss in UFL competition since the group stage of the UFL Cup.
Global will follow up this win with a game against fellow title contenders Loyola in a match which will also shape the title race on April 2. With the Stallions’ winning streak coming to an end, they will look to rebound against the Nomads, who have generally proved a resolute side and are punching above their weight in fifth. - AMD, GMA News
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