Global blanks Stallion to inch closer to the UFL double
By Kevin Estrada
MANILA-- They are just within reach of making history.
League leaders Global are now within striking distance of being the third UFL side to achieve the Double, after blanking a hapless Stallion side for three unanswered goals late Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium
Ivorian forward Arthur Kouassi duly answered the call for manager John Burridge, stepping up big-time for the suspended Misagh Bahadoran with a first-half brace to put them into 44 points, nine points way ahead of closest pursuers Ceres with just two matches left.
A second-half free kick by Omid Nazari and a clean sheet for Patrick Deyto were the other bright spots for Global as they quickly brushed aside Wednesday's shocking setback to JP Voltes with a convincing shutout as they only needed at least of a draw against Laos on Sunday to finally get what is denied to them five years ago.
"But it's not all over yet. We can't take Laos for granted. We need one point. And I will not rest until we get that one point," the English journeyman talked to the media after the match.
Knowing that they only need four points in their last three matches, Global went to work right away and were rewarded by the former Jeepney marksman just 27 minutes in by pouncing on a Nazari chance to rebound the ball past Ref Cuaresma.
Kouassi could have doubled their lead ten minutes later, but muffed his shot in front of the goal to send it wide to the right side.
But hard work deserves to be rewarded and it paid off for the Ivorian just seconds before halftime as he pounced on a Serge Kaole throw-in and blasts the ball from a tight angle to complete his brace, getting Global virtually a hand on the trophy.
Deyto got one huge save in each half to get his clean sheet, thwarting his former La Salle teammate Nate Alquiros in the 26th, then followed by a acrobatic stop on Carlo Polli's free kick in the 79th minute that could have changed the outcome had it come in.
"Our goalkeeper [Deyto] was magnificent, because he made one fantastic save in the first half. That would have put them [Stallion] 1-0 up. And he made a terrific save from a free kick which could have made 2-1 it would have been panic stations," the Global boss who is a goalkeeper himself during his playing years added.
Six minutes after Deyto stopped Polli, Nazari sealed all three points with a dipping free kick that left the former Loyola custodian stranded in his place.
"That was a hard game. The plan was we don't concede a goal. We keep a clean sheet. As long as we win this game," Burridge concluded.