Woody Ugarte fires Kaya to top of AFC Cup Group

Lagardere Sports
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--Kaya's fairytale season continued as the club is now on top of Group F of the AFC Cup after a pulsating 1-0 win over Singapore's Balestier Khalsa Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Woody Ugarte repaid coach Joel Villarino's trust in starting him with a low strike past a grounded Zaiful Nizam in 49th minute as the reigning UFL Cup holder registered its second consecutive win in its debut appearance in the competition, a historic first for Philippine club football.

The backline led by Aly Borromeo and goalkeeper Matt Acton kept its second consecutive clean sheet and now has six points in three matches and now at the pole of Group F after Hong Kong's Kitchee only mustered a goalless stalemate with Maldives' New Radiant in the other match that kicked off at the same time.

Kaya was the more aggressive side for the entire match by dictating matters in the first half with Alfred Osei and Joven Bedic fired the warning shots, with the latter came a foot off the post six minutes after it began.

The rough play of the visitors almost created fireworks as Miguel Tanton and Zulkiffli Hassim had a shouting match in the 24th minute in which the former was upset on the latter's hard tackle, in which the Indian referee Rowan Arumughan booked both of them.

Balestier had its best chance of the half four minutes to halftime, but Fazli Ayob's effort went wide on the right as it ended the first half in a goalless stalemate.

That changed three minutes into the restart as Ugarte shoved Kaya ahead with a cool, low finish just inside of the box after Bedic's initial shot was deflected by Emir Lotinac to send the 1,200 people clad in black and yellow into joyous euphoria.

The visiting Tigers were stunned but almost equalized five minutes after that as substitute Jamil Ali's rocket was emphatically stopped by the former Young Socceroo.

Nizam's goalkeeping kept the S-League side into the match as he denied Kaya a precious second goal many times, capping off with a huge save on Ugarte in the 70th minute.

However, Balestier cannot find an equalizer the rest of the way with Kaya holding its nerve to post another historic win to cap off a two-week home stand.

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