Originally published by Manila Bulletin Online
United City FC scored twice in the second half to dethrone Kaya-Iloilo, 3-2, Sunday, May 22 and win the Copa Paulino Alcantara at the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite.
Pika Minegishi delivered the equalizer before Mike Ott produced the eventual winner as United City completed a triumphant return to the domestic football scene by taking the annual cup competition at the expense of last year’s holders.
The win came after UCFC skipped the previous Copa, the lone local tournament in 2021, and finished just third after three consecutive draws late in the elimination round.
But United City went on to beat No. 2 seed Dynamic Herb Cebu in the semis on Simen Lyngbo’s second half goal before stopping Kaya’s unbeaten streak of 16 consecutive domestic matches dating back to 2020.
The Copa trophy is the latest addition to the early achievements produced by UCFC, which won the Philippines Football League crown in 2020 and appeared in the last two editions of the AFC Champions League.
Kaya could only settle for a runner-up medal after squandering a 2-1 halftime lead.
After seeing its former player Kenshiro Daniels produce the opener in the 10th, Kaya responded with an equalizer from Robert Lopez Mendy four minutes later.
Jhan Jhan Melliza put Kaya ahead in the 31st when he fired a left-footed strike past United City keeper Anthony Pinthus.
UCFC, however, equalized when Kaya goalkeeper Zach Banzon couldn’t secure the ball, resulting in a scramble and a goal from Minegishi in the 51st.
A corner kick by Mark Hartmann resulted in an unmarked Ott to easily score the go-ahead goal past Banzon in the 68th, giving United City back the lead which it never relinquished until the final whistle.
Earlier, Jo Warren Bedia’s late goal secured Stallion-Laguna’s 2-1 win over Dynamic Herb Cebu and third place for the second straight year.