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Stepahne saves Erco from M'lang's upset ax as late goal salvages draw

From Glen Ramos' Facebook profile (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

Meleke Stepahne saved Cebuano club Erco from ending up at the wrong end of a huge upset by North Cotabato club M'lang as he struck the equalizer to force a 2-2 draw in their PFF-Smart Club Championship battle at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila City.

Stepahne broke free after a loose ball scramble and drilled in the match-saving goal just before stoppage time to stun M'lang, which was set to pull off the upset in this showdown between the two non-UFL squads in the Elite 8.

Eric Jasangas scored a high-looping goal against Garry Garciano, who opted to chase Jasangas at the 66th minute to put the all-Filipino M'lang up, 2-1, against the Erco side which composed of five African college students.

But Stepahne broke the hearts of the Mindanao side after grabbing the loose ball after a chase and found himself all alone against Jestoni Celeste for the equalizer.

Stephen Lavega struck first for M'lang at the 16th minute, while Diomar Caruscay tied the match on a free kick six minutes later.

Both squads split the point, although Erco remained in third place on goal difference.

Erco, however, will face Global, which smashed M'lang, 10-0, on Tuesday.

M'lang, on the other hand, will take on Stallion also on Tuesday.