Unbeaten United City FC (UCFC) routed Stallion-Laguna FC 7-1 on Friday night to clinch the Philippines Football League championship at PFF national training center pitch in Carmona town, Cavite.
From a slim 2-1 halftime edge, UCFC settled the issue after racking up 6 goals after the break on the way to their fourth straight win, putting them beyond reach of the rest of the 6-team field with 12 points and a game in hand.
Spanish striker Bienvenido Marañon led the way with his second hat- trick with goals in 58th, 66th and 74th minutes, midfielder Mike Ott secured a brace (4th and 54th) while Takashi Uddawara and OJ Porteria a goal each in the rout.
UCFC conceded its first goal in 4 matches as Stallion-Laguna’s Senegal striker Ibrahim N’dour scored the team’s solitary goal in the 11th minute.
It was the second loss against 1 draw for the players of coach Ernie Nierras, whose side looked like giving UCFC a run for its money only to collapse in the second half.
Carrying on the winning tradition of Bacolod-based Ceres-Negros FC, the United City booters can formalize their grip on the title against Kaya-Iloilo FC in the last match for both clubs on Monday in the event supported by the Games and Amusements Board.
As an added reward for the league champions, UCFC sealed a spot in the AFC Champions League.
In need of a win to stay in title contention, Kaya-Iloilo could only muster a scoreless draw against unheralded Mendiola FC earlier in the day and remained stuck in second spot with 8 points with 2 wins and 2 draws.
“Noon malaman nag-draw yong sinabi namin that we’re going to seal this (win against Stallion),” said UCFC coach Francis Muescan. “Our main objective was to really win this game at all costs.”
After toiling under the shadow of Serbian Ceres-Negros FC coach Risto Vidakovic the previous three years, Muescan savored being in the coach’s spotlight saying, “Napaka-importante ito sa akin kasi interim coach lang ako rito.”
“The regular coach is outside because of the COVID-19 restrictions and protocols so it is a big challenge,” he said, referring to Scottish tactician Trevor Morgan, who was grounded in Australia and unable to come to the country because of the pandemic.
“Ang kagandahan is that I’ve been with them for the last four years. They know me and accepted me so the respect was swift,” Muescan said.
Marañon was pleased being the club’s top striker again and thanked the club’s new management for retaining his services to sustain the Ceres-Negros FC legacy.
“It is good that even if we changed management we are still the best team in the Philippines and we showed it again today,” he said, adding that sealing a spot in the AFC Champions League for being the newly-crowned PFL champion was icing on the cake.
“Now we will have a chance in playing strong clubs from China, Japan, Korea which we all look forward to” next year, he added.