GREEN Archers United cashed in on a second-half ejection that left Loyola Meralco a man down as it shocked the league-leaders, 2-1, on Saturday night at the Emperador Stadium in a result that changes the complexion of the title race in the United Football League.
After the Sparks went down to 10 men following PJ Fadrigalan’s sending off with a straight red card with still over 20 minutes to go in the second half, the Archers overhauled a late deficit, before turning the game around down the stretch to pull off the stunning victory.
“This is the biggest win of our season,” Archers coach Rodolfo Alicante said. “Sana mag-tuloy-tuloy pa.”
Far Eastern University standout Jesus Melliza and Ivorian striker Robert Mendy provided the goals for the streaking Archers, who kept a firm hold of fifth spot after stretching their win streak to three games.
The result also bode well for Global FC as the idle second-running side stayed within a point of the Sparks instead of going four behind.
It was only second loss of the season for the Sparks, who failed to protect a one-goal cushion, courtesy of Lee Joo Young, who slotted home a Freddy Gonzalez pass five minutes into the second half.
However, things went downhill for the title contenders after Fadirgalan was ejected in the 66th minute after a scuffle with Archers skipper Tating Pasilan. The latter was issued a yellow card.
Mendy equalized six minutes before stoppage time when he struck into an goalkeeper-less net off a rebound from a miss by Melliza, who later blew by Joaco Cañas to score the winner in the 90th minute.
“We had that game comfortably (in our hands)…when that red card shifted the balance,” said Sparks coach Vince Santos, who fired at the officiating for a missed call on Pasilan, whom the coach felt should’ve also received a red for responding with a punch to Fadrigalan.
“Closed fist to the neck—how is that not a red card?” Santos said. “I won’t make any excuses for the errors in the end, but still I have to question the officiating.”
“If referees’ decisions change results of games, then that’s the downfall of this UFL,” he concluded.