HARDLY given space to execute its quick passing game, Stallion Sta. Lucia mustered enough quality to survive a gritty Kaya side, 2-1, Tuesday night and stayed unbeaten four games into the United Football League season at the Emperador Stadium.
Goals from homegrown standouts Ruben Doctora and Bervic Italia ensured that the reigning UFL Cup champions grabbed maximum points, keeping in step with Global at the top of the table.
But with Global putting six goals past Army earlier, Stallion was relegated to second spot due to an inferior goal difference.
Substitute Janrick Soriano pulled a goal back for Kaya two minutes from time, but it proved to be too little too late as Stallion hung on for its fourth straight victory. It was Kaya’s second loss of the season, pinning them at sixth spot with four points.
“It’s still a learning process for the team,” said Stallion coach Ernie Nierras, who is implementing a new 3-6-1 formation to address the lack of defenders in his side. “As long as we improve, I’m happy.”
Facing a Kaya side reeling from the surprise resignation of coach Maor Rozen over the weekend, Stallion found chances difficult to come with last year’s runner-up pressing high and forcing them to long balls in the first half.
But Kaya hardly offered anything on attack, giving Stallion the luxury to focus its attention in building up from the backline.
It took 47 minutes for Stallion to find the breakthrough, thanks to Doctora, who showed a poacher’s instinct to slot the ball past Kaya keeper Saba Garmaroudi.
An in-swinging corner kick from Park Bo-bae wasn’t cleared properly by Kaya defender Dario Dakic, before the ball fell kindly for the Stallion captain to fire from close range.
Italia scored just minutes after coming on, majestically chipping the ball past Garmaroudi who came off his line trying to clear the ball only to send it into the path of the Stallion substitute.