Ceres ends Kaya's UFL Cup defense in thrilling shootout

Mark Cristino/UFL
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--There will be a new name to be engraved in the UFL Cup as Ceres showed it's nerves of steal to end Kaya's reign in the second semifinal late Wednesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Centreback Juani Guirado settled the tie with his walk-off spot kick that made it 8-7 on penalties after two hours of grueling and exciting football failed to break the 3-3 deadlock that included a goalfest in the first half.

Ali Go's men finally tasted revenge on the side that denied them the double last season with the thrilling shootout win, as they face Global in the Cup final on the 16th.

Chris Greatwich's booters will only battle for pride on the same day as the final, where they will lock horns with Super Sunday tormentor Stallion for third place.

In the match that looked liked the final, both Kaya and Ceres played fast and intense football since Clifford Daypuyat blew the opening whistle for their sixth encounter, with possessions and attack slightly went the latter's favor.

Patrick Reichelt drew first blood of the semifinal eight minutes after it began, where he pounced on a Martin Steuble's low cross to poke the ball into the unmarked net. Yet the lead did not last just five minutes later, when OJ Porteria took the ball away from the Ceres backline and beats Louie Casas with a sublime shot from yards to equalize.

However, Adrian Gallardo retook the lead for the defending league champions just a minute after the equalizer after intercepting a goal kick and slots his effort past a hapless Matthew Acton. But Porteria once again leveled the match eight minutes after the Spaniard's strike with a carbon copy of his first to make it 2-2.

Ceres could have gone down to 10 men after Kim Sang Min fouled Robert Lopez Mendy hard in front of the Kaya touchline, but Daypuyat retracted his straight red for a yellow, much to the dismay of Greatwich and his bench.

Carli de Murga finished the first half with Ceres up front nine minutes before the interval, heading the ball into the back of the net from Steuble's free kick to make it 3-2.

The reigning holders were reduced to 10 men thirteen minutes into the restart, as Jovin Bedic was sent to showers directly by the referee after a nasty challenge to Manny Ott that ignited some spark into the match.

However, Kaya showed why they won the UFL Cup last season with their fighting heart, as substitute Louis Clark, who won the cup last season on his penalty, levels the match for the third time with his header that stunned Casas, as both clubs failed to break the net the rest of the way up to the extra time, with the match had to be decided from the spot.

In the ensuing shootout, both clubs were cool as ice in the first six rounds, but it turned into an carbon copy of last season's final in the seventh, as Janrick Soriano had his shot saved and Steuble unable to finish it when he hit the post.

But Casas saved his midfielder's blushes two rounds later, when he denied Antonio Ugarte after a retake, then Juani completed its revenge to last season's Cup tormentors to when he send Acton the other direction with a low penalty into the bottom left corner.

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