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United Clark claims 'Copa' title after 2nd half surge dethrones Kaya Iloilo

By Ivan Saldajeno

CARMONA--United Clark came alive in the second half to dethrone Kaya Iloilo as the Copa Paulino Alcantara champion with a 3-2 win in the final on Sunday night at the PFF National Training Centre.

United Clark's brilliance in set pieces won it for the club as they scored their two second half strikes off those set pieces that erased Kaya Iloilo's 2-1 halftime lead that was partially spiced up by a controversy.

United Clark struck first in the 11th minute when Kenshiro Daniels got to the ball first over former teammate Zach Banzon and flicked the ball past him into the wide open goalmouth.

Kaya Iloilo, however, responded with a 14th minute goal from Robert Lopez Mendy, but it was not without some drama as the United Clark bench complained that Assistant Referee Merlo Abano had already raised her offside flag on Mendy.

As it turned out, Alan Robertson deflected Jhan-Jhan Melliza's pass intended for Mendy, keeping it fair ball, so Referee Clifford Daypuyat did not call offside on Mendy.

Melliza then put Kaya Iloilo ahead with a outside-the-box shot from the right side in the 32nd minute.

Early into the second half, however, Banzon failed to grab a hold of the ball after a Mark Hartmann free kick, and Pika Minegishi found himself all alone with the ball after some scrum inside the box and shot the ball past Banzon for the 52nd minute equalizer.

Skipper Mike Ott then won it for United Clark after Hartmann found him with some space and delivered his corner kick to him for the 69th minute goal.

Kaya Iloilo still played solid offense late in the match, but Anthony Pinthus grabbed crucial saves to keep United Clark ahead the rest of the way.

This United Clark's second Copa Paulino Alcantara championship as a franchise, duplicating its 2019 feat as Ceres Negros.

This also means United Clark will make a return to Asian Football Confederation club competition as the Copa winner will qualify for the AFC Cup.

United Clark, however, can complete a domestic double by winning the PFL season, which will tentatively begin in July.

The PFL champion gets to play in next year's AFC Champions League.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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