LOYOLA Meralco and Stallion FC leaned on clutch conversions to overcome separate opponents and kick start their respective campaigns in the United Football League of Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Sparks, last season’s runner-up to Global FC, banked on second-half goal from British striker Jamal Fenelon to nip Socceroo, 1-0, before the Stallions eked out the same scoreline after escaping Pachanga-Diliman thanks to a late strike by Azkals defender Simone Rota.
Loyola and Stallion thus gained three points to join Saturday winners Ceres-La Salle and Kaya FC on top of the 10-team standings after the opening weekend of the top-tier football competition in the country.
Picking up from where they left off the National Club Championship where they reigned supreme after an unbeaten run, the Sparks dominated possession against the former Division 2 champions, but was only rewarded in the 65th minute after penetrating the defense, anchored by goalkeeper Gui Hasegawa.
Loyola, which produced 19 shots, including 12 on goal, could’ve made it a rout had it not for the Brazilian netminder’s denial of the rest of the Sparks’ attempts from there.
The Stallions, on the other hand, survived a grueling battle with Pachanga courtesy of Rota, the Filipino Italy-raised right-back, who pounced on a loose ball to score the lone goal that mattered as the match was about to go to stoppage time in the 90th minute.