Dec 6, 8 months ago

Loyola Meralco Sparks Crowned 2013 UFL Cup Champions

http://ufl.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/UFL-2197-500x333.jpghttp://ufl.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/UFL-2197-500x333.jpghttp://ufl.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/UFL-2197-500x333.jpgLoyola Meralco Sparks Crowned 2013 UFL Cup Champions

5 Dec Results:
Green Archers United 3-0 Philippine Air Force
Loyola Meralco Sparks 3-2 Pachanga Diliman

The Loyola Meralco Sparks were crowned the 2013 UFL Cup Champions after a pulsating affair against Pachanga Diliman at the Emperador Stadium last night. After losing to Philippine Air Force in the Cup final in 2011, Loyola were more determined than ever to get their hands on their first UFL trophy. But the triumph was far from straightforward for this year’s top seed.

Having not conceded a single goal in their run to the final, it came as a shock when Ariel Zerrudo put Pachanga ahead in the first quarter of an hour. Capitalizing on a surprisingly tentative Loyola defense, the former Filipino international found space to fire home from the edge of the area. The lead wouldn’t last long though, as James Younghusband headed in his brother Phil’s corner less than five minutes later.

The goal settled Loyola’s nerves after a shaky start, allowing them to get into the rhythm of the game, which was being played at a blistering pace. Despite Kim Versales’ heroics in goal for Pachanga, he was breached right before half-time. Chad Gould clinically dispatched of a low cross from the right flank that managed to bypass everyone in the box, ensuring Loyola ended the half in the perfect manner.

Phil Younghusband celebrates after scoring the crucial third for Loyola. Photo by Mark Cristino

Phil Younghusband celebrates after scoring the crucial third for Loyola. Photo by Mark Cristino

Seven minutes after the restart Phil Younghusband doubled the advantage, firing in a left footed effort that slotted into the bottom corner. Delirium spread across the sea of orange that came out to support Loyola, but it wouldn’t last long. Zerrudo pegged one back immediately for Pachanga, punishing a lapse in the Sparks’ defense to keep his team in contention.

Eight minutes from time, Pachanga’s efforts to equalize were given a significant boost. Substitute Peter John Fadrigalan, not more than five minutes after coming on, was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Alu Kigbu. Despite Pachanga’s best efforts though, ten-man Loyola held on to win their first ever UFL trophy.

Celebrating his birthday on the night, Loyola head coach Vince Santos revealed his team’s loss in the 2011 UFL Cup Final served as their motivation. “I told the boys before the match, ‘this is familar to us’. December 5, 2011 was a painful memory. Having a second chance this time around we wanted to make sure we got the victory.”

From ecstasy, excitement, awe, and relief, to frustration, fear and despair, everyone in attendance at the Emperador Stadium was subjected to the full range of emotions. It was a UFL Cup Final that will be remembered fondly for many years to come.

Phil Younghusband bags the Golden Boot and Golden Ball Award. Photo by Mark Cristino

Phil Younghusband bags the Golden Boot and Golden Ball Award. Photo by Mark Cristino

Phil Younghusband was awarded with the tournament’s Golden Boot (Top Scorer), with 21 goals, and Golden Ball (Most Valuable Player) for his magnificent displays in Loyola’s Cup run. New goalkeeper Baba Sampana won the Golden Gloves (Best goalkeeper) for his role in keeping a staggering seven clean sheets for the Sparks. Global FC won the Fairplay Award.

Green Archers United finished third in the competition, their best ever finish in a major cup tournament, after defeating Philippine Air Force 3-0 in the earlier match. Chieffy Caligdong recovered from a disappointing semi-final performance, scoring two goals to sink his former club.

Chieffy Caligdong was simply too quick and tricky for Air Force's back line. Photo by: Mark Cristino

Chieffy Caligdong was simply too quick and tricky for Air Force’s back line. Photo by: Mark Cristino

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