MANILA, Philippines – Kaya FC unleashed Spanish striker Pablo Rodriguez Aracil to turn back bitter rival Loyola Meralco Sparks, 3-1, and zoom to second place in the First Division of the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium at the Emperador Stadium Tuesday night.
Rodriguez, acquired just a couple of weeks back, unloaded a brace, one on the 26th minute when he headed a Richard Greer free kick and the other coming two minutes after the break when he uncorked a low strike that sealed the deal.
"It was a great experience for me," said Rodriguez. "Loyola is one of the best teams in this league. The first goal, for me, is the most important I've scored since I arrived."
In between, OJ Porterio connected on a penalty goal that zoomed straight to the bottom right corner.
Lee Joo Young scored a consolation goal for Loyola on the 88th when Kaya goalie Manuel Saubach dropped the ball inside the box.
The crucial win sent LBC-bankrolled Kaya from No. 3 to No. 2 with 33 points, the same score by Loyola only the former gets the second spot with a better goal differential, 33-27.
It was also Kaya's third in a row since the talented Rodriguez arrived in the transfer window a few weeks back.
Idle Global FC continued to lead the way with 37.
And Kaya coach David Perkovich feels they will need to continue to play better to have a chance at catching up on Global.
"It's really for Global's to lose. Although there's one whole round left, they're in control of their own destiny. We're not in control of ours, Loyola's not in control of theirs," said Perkovic.
"We have to rely on other teams taking points off Global to get back in the race, so really the pressure's on them to maintain the results they've been getting. But if they slip up we'll be knocking on the door," he added.
In the other match, Green Archers United-Globe's four-game winning streak came into a crashing halt after getting held to a scoreless draw by Pachanga PLDT Home Fibr.
Loyola mentor Vince Santos, in contrast, was all disappointment after his team absorbed a second defeat in their last three outings.
"I'm very disappointed. I have to accept that it seemed like Kaya had more heart. They wanted this game more, and that spirit translates on the field. We were just talking in the locker room that talent, technique will only take you so far. A big portion of how you get results on the pitch is of course fitness, effort. We weren't up to par today," he said.