CEBU FC’s dream of winning the Copa Paulino Alcantara title this year has ended after a close 1-0 loss to perennial contender United City FC (UCFC) in the semifinals on May 16, at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
It was a neck-and-neck battle the whole match with both teams refusing to give in. However, UCFC defender Simen Lyngbon was at the right place at the right time as he headed in striker Kenshiro Daniels’ free kick past Cebu FC goalkeeper Ace Villanueva in the 60th minute.
Cebu FC tried its best to score the equalizer but UCFC held on with the impressive goalkeeping of Anthony Pinthus, who was in top form.
Cebu FC even had most of the ball possession with 56 percent to UCFC’s 44 percent. The Gentle Giants also had more shots and shots on target with 17 and eight, respectively, compared to UCFC’s 11 shots and seven shots on target.
On the other hand, defending champion Kaya FC-Iloilo beat Stallion Laguna FC with a late goal.
Just in the nick of time, Japanese striker Daizo Horikoshi scored the winning goal in the 86th minute. Horikoshi, the top scorer of the Copa, scored his sixth goal with a beautiful outbalanced strike coming off an errant heading clearance by Stallion defender Matthew Nierras.
Stallion FC faces UCFC in the finals on May 22, while Cebu FC and Stallion FC battle for third place.
Cebu FC is looking for an improved finish from last year. The Gentle Giants finished fourth last year after losing to Stallion FC, 5-4, on penalties.
This year, with the revamped roster, Cebu FC beat Stallion FC, 2-0. Compared to the club’s debut season, Cebu FC vastly improved and finished second in the standings, racking up 13 points from four wins, a draw and a loss.