MANILA, Philippines—Undermanned Global stunned Loyola Meralco, 2-1, in controversial fashion Tuesday night to clinch the first finals berth in the United Football League Cup before a huge crowd at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Rising to the occasion, Cameroonian striker Alex Obiang and Sudanese forward Izzo El-Habbib were on target for Global, which missed nine key players due to national team commitments.
Stallion forged a finals duel with Global, the reigning league titlist and 2010 UFL Cup winner, after a thrilling 3-1 win over Green Archers United in extra time.
Ruben Doctora struck twice, but it was Lee Woon Hyung’s 115th minute goal that proved decisive as Stallion finally made all the pressure it put against a stubborn Archers backline pay.
Doctora cancelled out Tating Pasilan’s 55th minute strike with a close-range effort 15 minutes later, before sealing the win by firing home from inside the box in the 119th minute.
Both teams finished with 10 men in their lineup with Lawrence Ikegwuruka sent off in the 64th minute after picking up his second yellow card for violent conduct. Nam Yeol Woo was also dismissed just before regulation ended for a second yellow.
Among the players missing from the Global side were regular starters Misagh Bahadoran, Jeff Christiaens, Denis Wolf, Patrick Reichelt, Marwin Angeles and Juani Guirado.
But the remaining players, usually reserves when Global is at full strength, stepped up for Dan Palami’s side as they survived a late wave from the Sparks to book a return trip to the finals.
The finals is slated Monday at 7 p.m. at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
James Younghusband’s strike four minutes from time set the stage for a thrilling finish, but there was further drama when Loyola players rushed to referee Allan Martinez as the final whistle blew in the 96th minute because they were not notified of how much time was added for stoppages in the second half.
Global took the lead in the sixth minute when skipper Yu Hoshide picked out Obiang at the right, before the Cameroonian expertly finished the ball past Sparks keeper Ref Cuaresma.
Clear-cut chances came few and far between for both teams in the opening 45 minutes for both teams. But the Sparks defense were caught napping on a couple of occasions, leading to threatening balls from Obiang and El-Habbib.
Global opened the second half on the ascendancy with El-Habbib sending a free header to Cuaresma a minute into the second half.
But the Sparks began finding their stride and a hattrick of chances went begging for Loyola. From a quick restart, Phil Younghusband released James, who, however, shoots over with only Global keeper Roland Sadia to beat in the 63rd minute.
Some fine interplay led to a Phil Younghusband chance three minutes later, but the national team striker screwed his shot wide from eight yards out.
El-Habbib scored what turned out to be the marginal goal in the 83rd minute, shrugging off Korean defenders Jang Jo-woon and Park Min-ho before coolly rounding out Cuaresma.