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Trigo stops Sato's spot kick as Loyola forces stalemate with Global

By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--Brad Grayson’s brace and Tomas Trigo’s penalty save at stoppage time lifted the Loyola Meralco Sparks from a two-goal hole in the first 32 minutes to force a wild 2-2 draw with Global in the United Football League on Wednesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Both clubs knew that a win for either of them will solidify their hold of the second place in the league table, which could give the team a slot in next season’s AFC Cup qualifiers if Ceres, which already clinched the league title and an outright ticket to the group stages, also goes on to win the UFL Cup.

Leigh Manson’s men started on the backfoot due to the barrage of Loyola’s attacks early on, but Izo Elhabib made the Sparks’ missed chances pay in the ninth minute.

The Sudanese forward headed home the rebound after Masaki Yanagawa’s initial effort that was saved by Tommy Trigo.

Global doubled their lead past the half-hour mark when Misagh Bahadoran outsmarted Trigo and latched the ball on to the empty net.

But with five minutes left to play in the second half, Brad Grayson pulled one back for the Sparks. From a James Younghusband corner, the ball went to Joaquin Canas, who sets it up to Grayson to head it past Roland Sadia to settle the half time score.

Action heats up for both sides as they start the second half, knowing that the winner of this match gets the edge coming to their final matches on Saturday.

But with five minutes before the hour mark, Grayson delivered yet again, on the same set up. This time it was Phil who took the corner that lands to Joaco and Greyson hits the net again for the equalizer.

From then on, action heated up on the pitch, with near misses and commotions becoming commonplaces.

The match took a wild turn at the end of the match, as Referee Linjun Talaver pointed to the spot after Eddie Mallari fouled OJ ClariƱo inside the box.

But Trigo ensured the points will be split after he saved Sato’s penalty kick to cap off a comeback and to ensure Grayson’s effort will not be wasted.

Both teams are tied at 32 points in the table, yet despite less wins, Global takes hold of second place as super Saturday looms.

The Sparks will meet GAU at 5:15 p.m., while Global will end their season against arch nemesis Kaya at 7:45 p.m.