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Electrified Loyola shocks weary Ceres to begin league aspirations

Photo by KC Cruz/UFL (file photo)
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--Not even a power outage could deter Loyola, at least for this day.

Electrified and charged, they made the earliest shock of the season, jolting a weary and shorthanded Ceres in a scintillating display of football, 3-2 to open their campaign for their maiden league title late Saturday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.


In a lethal combination of pressing and persistence, James Younghusband, Curt Dizon, and Alvaro Castiella all found the net for Simon McMenemy who took advantage of the Busmen's burnout after coming from a historic draw in the AFC Cup to grab their three points and a share of the lead in the table along with Kaya and JP Voltes.

Frank Muescan's men found themselves in an unfamiliar territory as they begein their title defense off the wrong foot despite Lee Jeong Woo and Stephan Schröck striking for them.

Both clubs started on the offensive on the opening whistle despite fielding contrasting sides, with Ceres opting to rest the Spanish duo of Adrian and Bien Marañon in favor of the South Korean striker, while the Sparks have inserted Anton Del Rosario in centre-back after the departure of Adam Mitter.

However, Loyola finally struck first in the 13th minute on a counter initiated by Kouichi Belgira from the middle of the pitch, who then found Castiella, who then later found James who poked it past Louie Casas from close range.

The match took an interesting turn just two minutes past the hour mark, as officials called for a break after a power outage hit the stadium which lasted for less than ten minutes.

With play resumed, Ceres now have the upper hand in the proceedings, and it bore fruit five minutes before half time, with Lee slotted the ball into the net past Tomas Trigo to equalize.

But the parity was short lived to added time, as Dizon's peskiness on Jeffrey Christiaens paid off with a strike from close range to restore their lead.

The electric nature of the match continued at the restart, as both clubs continuted their attacking intent despite being shorthanded, as the match turned physical with fouls became more prevalent than their attempts on goal.

However, Castiella ended any hopes of a draw midway into the second half, driving home a winner from close range after Simon Greatwich's cross found him from close range.

Schröck gave Ceres a glimmer of hope with his free kick that bounced on the line six minutes from full time, but they cannot find the equalizer to prevent the Sparks getting their payback after their thrilling Super Sunday cup fixture in which  Loyola lost in added time.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada