SINGAPORE—Rufo Sanchez showed why Global went to great lengths to have him for the Singapore Cup.
Doing what he does best, the Spanish striker struck deep into stoppage time to lift Global to a narrow 1-0 victory over S-League side DPMM Brunei Wednesday night in a pulsating opening leg of their Singapore Cup quarterfinal tie at Jalan Besar Stadium here.
The United Football League top scorer, who is on loan from UFL champion Stallion, cleverly used the back of his head to direct a long Jeffrey Christiaens free kick into the bottom corner, sparking wild celebration by Filipino supporters.
The sequence in the 96th minute turned out to be the final play of the game, leaving Global—making its first appearance in the tournament—needing just a draw in the second leg on Saturday to advance to the semifinals.
“I think the result showed the resilience of the team,” said Global owner Dan Palami. “I’m glad we were able to adjust. We were ready to take the draw, but the players never gave up and with that goal from Rufo, we got the cushion that might just help us pull through.”
The other Filipino side, Loyola Meralco, was battling another S-League team, Tanjong Pagar, in another quarterfinal duel last night.
Global paraded a retooled roster that included Dutch Eredivise veteran Paul Mulders. But the UFL season runner-up looked sluggish early on in its first game in more than a month and seemed to be struggling adjusting to the JBS pitch, considerably wider and longer than the UFL’s home, Emperador Stadium.
And while the 2012 UFL champions had the better chances, the Filipinos still struggled to cope in the second half where goalkeeper Roland Sadia was forced to thwart a string of long-range efforts from a fit DPMM side.
Sanchez had an easier chance near the end of the first half when he raced into the box unmarked only to miskick the ball from six yards.
“There’s no better time to score than the last play, but we can’t get carried away because we still have the second leg (on Saturday),” said Global coach Brian Reid.