Global FC’s firepower proved too much against Stallion’s supposedly resolute defense, cruising to a 5-1 victory that left a huge dent on the latter’s title-retention bid this early in the United Football League on Thursday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Unlike last Saturday where it was held goalless by Green Archers United in a draw, offense was plenty for Global this time as it punctured a Stallion defense that hadn’t conceded in the last two games.
Mark Hartmann shone brightest with a brace and two assists, fellow Azkal Misagh Bahadoran added two goals of his own, while Milad Behgandom chipped in a strike for Global, which stayed just a point behind leaders Loyola Sparks with 19 points.
It may just be the end of the first round, but the title seems to be slipping away from the Stallions, who are stuck in fourth spot with 11 points.
With their third loss in eight games, the Stallions now have one more loss than all of last year, when they finished with a 15-1-2 win-draw-loss card en route to winning the crown.
“Anybody can still win this game. It’s just the end of the first round,” Stallions coach Ernie Nierras said. “But we can’t afford to lose any more games or tie games. That’s the bottomline.”
“If any of those two happen, we’re not gonna be able to defend the title,” he added.
In a battle between the top two clubs that disputed the title last season, it was Global that established an early lead it never relinquished.
Bahadoran kicked off the scoring with a header off a Hartmann free kick just three minutes into the game, before the Flipino-Iranian right-winger duplicated his effort from close range in the 30th minute.
After Global scored another header five minutes later, this time from Behgandom, courtesy of Hartmann’s cross, national training team call-up Simone Rota pulled a goal back for Stallion in the 37th.
Global clamped down on defense in the second half, where Hartmann scored his brace, the first in a right-footed shot off a Behgandom pass to the bottom right corner of the net in the 64th, then a stoppage-time conversion from close range.
The Stallions created their own chances and looked threatening, but goalkeeper Roland Sadia proved outstanding between the posts.
“In the second half, we closed them down a lot better,” Global coach Leigh Manson said.