CERES-LA Salle banked on Carli de Murga heroics to survive Loyola Meralco, 2-1, and kick off its United Football League Cup campaign on a positive note on Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
In his first game in over a year, De Murga fired a brace, including the go-ahead goal deep in stoppage time that spelled the difference in the nip-and-tuck affair against a Sparks side that went a man down late.
“It’s a good start,” Ceres coach Ali Go said. “Loyola’s a tough opponent, but we held on.”
Ceres claimed a share of the lead in Group B with Global FC and Green Archers United.
De Murga, fit again after suffering a knee injury in November 2014, announced his return with a follow-up goal off a penalty miss by Adrian Gallardo in the 35th minute.
The Sparks, missing injured star Phil YOunghusband, lacked quality in the final third, but found a spark from sub Valmayor, who scored on a low shot that slid past goalkeeper Louie Casas in the 6th minute, barely a minute after coming in.
but De Murga had one more trick in the bag, scoring on a header off a corner three minutes into injury time.