Global and Ceres-La Salle kept their 1-2 positions at the end of the first round of the United Football League competition after a thrilling 3-3 draw before a huge Sunday crowd at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Ivan Petrovic and Misagh Bahadoran put Global 2-0 up after 25 minutes, before Adrian Gallardo pulled a goal back for Ceres at the stroke of halftime.
After Hikaru Minegishi restored Global’s two-goal cushion at the hour-mark, Gallardo and Bienvenido Maranon scored in the 77th and 78th minutes, respectively, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.
Both teams settled for a point in the end as Global kept its unbeaten start halfway into the season despite finishing the game with 10 men after Jerry Barbaso was sent off for a second yellow card in stoppage time.
Coach Leigh Manson’s side has 31 points, three ahead of Ceres at the end of the first round.
“We’re still at the top of the table and if we can repeat what we have done, we’ll be champions,” said Manson.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed to have lost a 3-1 lead. We’d like to see out the last 20 minutes, but I think, again Ceres and Global showed how different they are from the rest of the teams.”
Ceres coach Ali Go hailed his side’s fighting spirit.
“Global is always a hard team to play against they always give their everything and see their best games against us,” said Go. “It’s frustrating that we make silly mistakes against them. But we never gave up from two goals down.
Global proved devastating on the counterattack with Bahadoran leading the charge. The skipper played a 1-2 with Petrovic, before the Serbian fired his close-range shot into the roof of the net for the first goal.
Bahadoran placed his shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-0, before Ceres had a penalty appeal waived when Patrick Deyto brought down Maranon inside the box.
Ceres was unlucky not to score minutes later when Manny Ott’s corner found Gallardo inside the box only for the Spanish striker to head his effort to the crossbar.
Gallardo trimmed the gap with a well-taken strike, after Martin Steuble looked like he got away with a foul on Milan Nikolic who was chasing the Spanish striker.
Minegishi made it 3-1 for Global following up a saved effort after Bahadoran and substitute Omid Nazari combined on the right on another counter-attack.
Ceres got back in the thick of the fight when Gallardo beat Deyto from just outside the box, before Maranon fired another well-placed strike to equalize.
Earlier, Stallion finished the first round in sixth spot after a 1-1 draw with Green Archers United while Nomads picked up its third win with a 4-0 demolition of Pasargad.
Stallion substitute Jim Ashley Flores’ early strike in the second half was cancelled out by Jess Melliza’s effort.
The league takes a break next weekend with the staging of UFL All-Star weekend that will be highlighted by the match pitting the UFL All-Stars against Australian League side Perth Glory also at Rizal Memorial Stadium.