UFL Cup champion Global picked up from where it left off by drubbing Stallion, 4-2, Sunday night to start its league campaign on a winning note even as Forza held Green Archers to a 1-1 stalemate at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Captain Misagh Bahadoran, the Golden Ball winner of the Cup, continued his amazing form with a brace, while new signing Hikaru Minegishi was also on target as Global began its campaign to regain the title it last won two years ago in style.
New signing Ivan Petrovic forced an own goal from new Stallion goalkeeper Roland Sadia in the second half.
Stallion suffered its second straight loss to Global this season, but coach Ernie Nierras side showed plenty of fight pulling a goal back before halftime through Balot Doctora before Simone Rota scored a late consolation from the penalty spot.
“It’s my best start to the league,” said Global coach Leigh Manson, who lost his first match in charge two years ago to Loyola and drawing with Green Archers to start its campaign last year. “It’s absolutely brilliant to start the league not paying catch up.”
Manila Nomads Club also collected three points with a forfeiture victory over MSA Agila, but it was Forza that delivered the result of the day after a 1-1 draw with sister club, Green Archers United.
Forza, with midfielder Nicholas Ferrer pulling the strings, held its own for majority of the first half as Archers misfired and responded when its opponents took the lead early in the second half.
Archers paraded some of their new signings, but they struggled to make their mark on the game. Jimuel Arriola broke the deadlock five minutes after the break, but Hayato Aoki equalised nine minutes later as Forza picked up a precious point.
With some of its biggest rivals picking up full three points over the weekend, the reigning Cup champions were also under pressure to kickstart their quest on a positive note.
It took only nine minutes for Manson’s side to break the deadlock with Bahadoran creating space for himself to test former Global goalkeeper Roland Sadia on the Stallion goal.
The rebound fell kindly to Minegishi who tapped the ball home to make it 1-nil.
Bahadoran doubled the advantage two minutes later with an exquisite finish. The skipper controlled the ball over the top, before chipping the ball past Sadia leaving Stallion stunned.
Stallion had started the game aggressively, pressing high and closing down Global, but the 2013 champions had no answer to Bahadoran’s fine form.
Doctora trimmed the deficit in the 33rd minute by rounding out Global goalkeeper Patrick Deyto after latching unto a well weighted ball from Fitch Arboleda, but the two-goal advantage was restored when Sadia helped Petrovic’s inswinging corner kick past the line, before Bahadoran fired home a left footed strike in the 77th minute after a swift change in direction with his first touch.
Charley Pettys made his return to Global, but the defender conceded the penalty that Rota converted late on.
Still, it hardly mattered for Global as it sustained its impressive run this season. “We want to keep the ball rolling,” said Manson. “Stallion is a quick and aggressive team and we shouldn’t have allowed that one ball down the middle to beat us, but overall three points is vital because we’re keeping pace with Kaya and Loyola.”