Ceres-La salle secures second place, AFC Cup berth
Goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma returned to haunt his former team as Stallion spoiled Loyola Meralco’s bid for a second place finish with a 2-2 draw Saturday night in the United Football League at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The veteran shotstopper from Dumaguete City, who was part of the Sparks side for three seasons until 2013, rose to the challenge in the second half, coming up with a string of saves on substitute Daniel Gadia and Joaco Canas to preserve the stalemate.
A victory by the Sparks would have piled up the pressure on Ceres-La Salle, but an early strike from Fitch Arboleda and a composed finish from Balot Doctora early in the second half gave Stallion the lead twice, before Cuaresma delivered the biggest saves of the match.
The result meant Ceres-La Salle also captured the second AFC Cup berth regardless of the result of its last match of the season against JP Voltes slated last night. Had Loyola won, Ceres would have needed maximum points from the JP Voltes match.
Global took the league crown with 47 points to complete a season double, matching the feat of Stallion three seasons ago and Air Force in 2009.
An own goal from Stallion defender Sam Bonney at the stroke of halftime gave Loyola a lifeline, before Simon Greatwich’s long-range strike made it 2-2 heading into the final 25 minutes.
The Sparks desperately tried to find the winner, but Gadia was denied by a diving save by Cuaresma, who also tipped away Canas’ header.
Kaya leaned on a four goal binge from Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy to overcome Forza, 5-0.
Charlie Beaton accounted for Kaya’s other goal.
Loyola finished with 41 points for third spot.