A weary Global FC turned to its bench to turn back Loyola Meralco, 2-1, and advance to finals of the Football Alliance League Cup of the United Football League on Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
With their national team standouts battling jetlag after their flight from Doha landed just hours earlier, the reigning league champions mustered enough energy to edge a fellow tired powerhouse squad in their semifinal battle.
Edgar Briones and Izo El-Habib provided the spark off the bench, scoring a goal each late in the second half for Global, which will meet the winner of the Final Four pairing between Ceres-La Salle and Pachanga Diliman.
“As always, at Global, the players coming in off the bench have not come in just to fill a shirt, but are out to make a difference in the way we play,” Global coach Leigh Manson said.
“It’s the whole team and not just the eleven starters,” the Scottish mentor added.
It was an evenly played match until Briones, who came in the 73rd minute, broke the dry spell with a header six minutes before stoppage time.
Then Mark Hartmann, who has been on fire for Global lately, became a facilitator this time feeding a fellow Golden Boot winner El-Habbib with a cross from the right side for the insurance goal three minutes into injury time.
Phil Younghusband pulled a goal back for the Sparks with a penalty conversion a minute later, but that proved to be too little too late.
“At the end of the day, if you could bring in players that have been top scorers in the league for the last twenty minutes of the game, that shows that you’ve got a pretty strong squad. And that’s what Global have,” Sparks coach Simon Mcmenemy said.
“If we could’ve just been more clinical with our shots, we would’ve had a better chance,” the former Azkals coach added.