MANILA, Philippines – No longer in contention, last season champion Phil. Air Force Phoenix played the spoiler’s role as they put a big dent on rival Loyola Meralco Sparks’ title bid with a 2-1 victory last night in the 2012 United Football League action at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Similar to their dramatic comeback in the injury time to force a 3-3 draw in their first round meeting, the Airmen struck again in the extra time with late substitute Reymark Palmes scoring the marginal goal in the 93rd minute.
The loss was a big blow to the Sparks’ title bid as they remained at third spot with 35 points, trailing Global and Kaya, which have 38 and 36 points, respectively after 16 matches.
As it stands, Kaya and Loyola Meralco now are at the mercy of the others while Global still control its destiny with two matches each left in their schedules.
Yanti Barsales broke the scoreless spell in the 35th minute off Peter Jaugan’s assist to put Air Force ahead, 1-0. Loyola Meralco, however, tied the match just three minutes into the second half on Korean Byeong Yeol Jeong’s goal.
The Sparks repeatedly attack the Airmen’s defense but was shut down by an inspired play by veteran goalkeeper Tats Mercado. Phil Younghusband, who leads the league with 23 goals, was held scoreless in the process.
Air Force climbed to sixth spot with 19 points after 15 matches, trailing fifth place Pasargad, which has 21 points on 16 games.
League action resumes today with Kaya playing an all-important match against the dangerous Pasargad at 7pm following the Stallion Giligan’s-Phil. Army Fritz and Macziol match at 5pm in the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Both matches will be televised live over AKTV on IBC.
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