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Giant-slaying Voltes switches off Loyola to move up to the table

John Celiz is being mobbed by his teammates after scoring JP Voltes' second

By Kevin Estrada

MANILA-- Just a week after shocking Kaya, JP Voltes created another massive jolt in the UFL table, upsetting another title favorite in a thrilling encounter Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Proving that their upset win was not a fluke, Voltes leaned on the first half strikes of Takumi Uesato and John Celiz to put a massive shakeup in the league table with a 2-1 upset of a more fancied Loyola side to win their fourth win on the trot move to fourth with 22 points, two behind their victims today.

Phil Younghusband pulled one back for the Sparks from the spot in the second half, but it was not enough for Simon McMenemy’s men to preserve the winning streak which ended at six matches today.

Playing manager Yu Hoshide only made one change from the side that sent shockwaves to the league last week, with Camelo Tacusalme getting the starting nod over Allan Auman to complement skipper Masaki Yanagawa at central defence, while Loyola made two adjustments from their thrashing of Pasargad last Thursday, with Simon Greatwich and Joaco Cañas preferred over Ian Clariño and Anton Del Rosario as Gui Hasegawa remains the man between the sticks.

The match started out slightly in Voltes' favor, yet their errant running let them down as Celiz and Alen Angeles were caught by the linesman's flag for offside early on. 

But it took only tweleve minutes for last season's playoff winners to break the deadlock, as Uesato receives Hoshide's through ball and beats the Brazilian ith a close ranged effort.

From then on, Loyola pressed hard for the equalizer, but only found their shots either wide or in the hands of Nelson Gasic who made spectacular stops althroughout the match.

Voltes' counter-attacking football bore in the 40th minute, as Celiz beats the Spanish defender on the break and fired past Hasegawa into the bottom corner to double their advantage.

Gasic made a massive save five minutes later, when he denied Curt Dizon's thumping close-ranged volley to preserve Voltes' 2-0 cushion at the break.

With the danger of being humiliated by the giant-killers, Loyola went to work right at the restart, and were rewarded three minutes in to the second half as Curt Dizon were brought down by Camelo Tacusalme in the box, in which the Azkals skipper calmly slotted home the spot kick soon after.

However, the Sparks squandered many chances the rest of the way, with Jinggoy Valmayor’s shot that clanked the crossbar with six minutes left the closest they came for an equalizer, as Voltes took down another title challenger for their fourth straight win.

Coach Kyo Nagami expressed sheer delight after winning against another title-challenger. “They [Loyola] get more possession, but our defence was not bad as well. Luckily our team was patient,” the Japanese quoted after the match, in which they only have 45% of the time they have the ball. When asked about challenging for the title, he only said that they will get it one place at a time.

Incoming gaffer Dan Padernal credited their discipline and their execution of their plays on the field that made their chances count despite giving up most of the shots and possession, especially to their through-balls that led to the two goals.

“We have already  upset two [big] teams. And we also hoping to keep this good form heading into the second round,” the former Global deputy concluded after the match.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada