KAYA FC compounded Loyola Meralco’s misery after a stunning 3-1 victory over the Sparks in the United Football League on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig.
The tournament’s dark horse was all serious on April Fools’ Day, establishing an early two-goal lead that set the tone for a surprising blowout victory that altered the landscape of the title race once again.
The result allowed Kaya to vault past the struggling Sparks in second spot with a six-point edge on goal difference, instead of letting their victims inch closer to league-leading Global FC.
“If anything, we did Global a favor,” Kaya coach David Perkovic said of the Dan Palami-owned side, which maintained a four-point cushion on top. “The title is theirs to lose. They control their own destiny.”
“But if they do slip up, we’ll be knocking on the door,” the Australian mentor added.
Spanish striker Pablo Rodriguez struck a brace, while OJ Porteria was also on target for Kaya, which dealt the Sparks their second loss in three games.
“I’ve got to accept that it seemed Kaya had more heart,” a disappointed Sparks coach Vince Santos said. “They wanted this game more and the spirit translated into the field.”
Kaya’s desire was evident from the get-go in the battle between title contenders as Rodriguez unlocked the Loyola defense 28 minutes into the game when the transfer-window acquisition struck off a Richard Greer free kick.
Porteria doubled the lead seven minutes later with a penalty kick awarded after Sparks defender Sam Bonney committed a handball infraction.
Rodriguez completed his effort barely two minutes after the restart with a strike that sent the Kaya bench into frenzy and gave the LBC-backed squad a commanding lead.
Kaya’s defense proved impenetrable until two minutes before stoppage time when Lee Joo Young pounced on a poor catch from goalkeeper Manu Saubach, allowing the Korean winger to score Loyola’s consolation goal from close range.