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Manila tightens hold of top spot as late Gadia goal spoils Cebu in "road" game at home turf

Daniel Gadia was mobbed by his teammates after scoring the eventual game-winning goal for Manila. FC Meralco Manila
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA--FC Meralco Manila remained atop the Philippines Football League standings with a 2-1 victory over Global Cebu on Sunday night. Tahj Minniecon scored for Manila in the first half while substitute Daniel Gadia added the winning goal four minutes from time.

It's Meralco's first win this season against the Cebuanos. Although Global was technically the home team, the match was played in Rizal Memorial due to the unavailability of Cebu's home ground due to a previously scheduled youth sporting event.

Meralco has now beaten every team in the PFL this season.

Coach Aris Caslib gave Manila's transfer window signing Franco De La Torre a start in midfield while another Bedan, Ashley Flores, also made the starting lineup and was dangerous in the right flank.

Manila had chances from Jinggoy Valmayor and Tahj Minniecon early but only broke through in the 32nd when Simon Greatwich led a break down the right side. He dished to Flores who outran the defense and centered to Minniecon who finished clinically past Global keeper Patrick Deyto.

Manila custodian Ace Villanueva denied Global's Wesley Dos Santos' free kick 7 minutes later but three minutes from the half had no answer for Pika Minegishi's magnificently volleyed equalizer.

With 11 minutes to go Gadia was brought in for De La Torre. Six minutes later another sub, Curt Dizon, squandered a great chance to put his team in front when he skied a one-on-one chance with the keeper.

But the memory of that miss was expunged a minute later when Gadia brilliantly eased in a shot into the low left corner for 2-1. Its the midfielder's first goal of this PFL campaign.

Global had a shot at a late second goal but Rufo Sanchez saw his firm effort palmed over the bar by Villanueva in stoppage time.

"All week we had been reminding Gadia to just place the ball on his finishing. In the last 15 minutes of the game he did his job well," said Caslib afterwards.

Meralco centerback Lee Jeong Min won man of the match honors but said afterwards, "Everyone worked hard. Gadia should have been Man of the Match."

"I don't want to be a star. I just want to help my team mates. It's my job," added the Korean.

"We were unlucky with our chances in goal, so many from so near," confessed Global coach Akbar Nawas.

Meralco remain atop the standings on 57 points, four ahead of second place Ceres, who they play on Friday. The Busmen also play Ilocos on Tuesday and Global after they play Manila.

The loss likely condemns Cebu to a fourth seed place going into the playoffs, barring an unlikely double digit win in the Visayan Clasico that ends the regular season. The postseason begins on Dec. 2 and culminates in the championship game on Dec. 16. Manila are already assured of at least the second seed.

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