By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
FC MERALCO Manila got the better of rival Kaya FC Makati on Saturday, claiming a 2-1 win in their “Capital Clasico” at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium and thrusting itself back to solo leadership in the Philippines Football League.
Two goals from Tahj Minniecon proved to be the difference for Meralco, which began a new era in its football after Phil and James Younghusband’s recent transfer to Davao, as it made its way back to the top of the standings in the PFL with 30 points on the strength of nine wins, three draws and two losses in 14 games to date.
Meralco is up two points over second-running Global Cebu FC (8-4-2) while Kaya (9-3-4) is one rung bellow at third with 27 points after the defeat.
Mr. Minniecon got things going for the Sparks in the 23rd minute when he converted a nifty assist from teammate Curt Dizon to help their team to a 1-0 advantage.
The two teams went back-and-fort thereafter but Meralco would maintain the lead up to the halfway mark.
In the second half, both sides came out aggressive, looking to seize momentum.
An own goal by Meralco in the 78th minute gifted Kaya a score-tying goal.
But the Sparks, through a Minniecon free kick, were quick to make up for it, seizing the lead anew in the 85th minute and never looking back.
“The match itself speaks for the quality of the players,” said Meralco coach Aris Caslib after the game.
“The message to the team before the game was that the bench must step up, and they did,” added the coach, whose side made it 2-of-2 over its Capital Clasico rival in the inaugural season of the PFL.
With the loss, Kaya, for its part, saw its seven-game unbeaten run come to an end.
It said it hopes to bounce back in its succeeding games and learn from the lessons of the game against Meralco.
“We have to play two halves of quality football. That’s how the game goes. We didn’t perform properly as planned, but we were able to adjust in the second half. We have to play two 45 minutes of quality football to get the result,” said Kaya coach Noel Marcaida following the game.
Meralco next plays Stallion Laguna FC on Aug. 12 while Kaya faces Ceres-Negros FC in its next match.