MANILA, Philippines - Global leaned on Mark Hartmann’s late goal as it repulsed Loyola Meralco Sparks, 3-2, to close in on the latter in the Division One title race of the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium Saturday night.
With the match knotted at two goals apiece, Hartmann came through with a brilliant rocket on the 81st minute to send the Sparks, his former team, to their first defeat while avenging Global’s 0-4 defeat to the latter in the first round.
Most importantly, Global, a team managed by Azkals team manager Dan Palami, moved one point away from Loyola with 25 points against the latter’s 26 in what is turning out an exciting two-way championship battle.
“We’ve made it possible for us to control our own destiny, we don’t need to rely on other teams. So for us, it was huge,” said Global coach Leigh Manson.
Global appeared in control when recent acquisition German Rodriguez headed in the goal off a nice cross from Hartmann on the 61st after Milad Behgandom came through with a rocket of his own early in the first half to seize a 2-0 lead.
But Loyola didn’t flinch and clawed its way back with Lee Joo Young connecting on a Paolo Bugas pass on the 63rd and Phil Younghusband scoring on a penalty shot five minutes later to forge a 2-all deadlock.
It was a sorry loss for the Sparks, whose once mighty lead has been sliced down to just a point ahead of a streaking Global side.
Earlier, Army-General Trias International leaned on Ricardo Becite and John Cain as it eked out a pulsating 2-1 win over Team Socceroo to hike its total to 13 points, which was good for fifth spot.
Becite came through on the 31st while Cain followed it up on the 60th to give the Armymen a two-goal cushion.
Stanley Ankrah cut it to just a one-goal deficit with an 85th minute goal but it was the best Socceroo could offer, allowing Army-GTI to preserve the win.