Former Philippines Under-22 star Ivan Ouano opened his goalscoring account for Dynamic Herb Cebu FC as the Gentle Giants overcame a gritty Maharlika Manila FC, 2-1, before a good Sunday night crowd in the Philippines Football League brought to you by Qatar Airways at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig.
Needing maximum points to close the gap on leaders Kaya FC-Iloilo, the Gentle Giants needed to fight back from a goal down to beat Maharlika which came into the match riding high on their first win of the season.
Daniel Gadia struck late in the first half to cancel out David Basa’s surprise opener for Maharlika, before Ouano scored the go-ahead goal four minutes into the second half to secure the win in the first PFL match played at the stadium.
“It was a hard fought match, but we made sure we get the three points,” said Gadia, who also scored against Azkals Development Team last week.
“Being man of the match and scoring a goal on my part was just a bonus for the hard work we put together as a team. We needed this win more than anything.”
The win kept Cebu within striking distance of Kaya FC-Iloilo, which has 42 points, eight ahead of the Gentle Giants. Cebu has played two less matches than Kaya. Maharlika remained in last place with just four points from 16 matches.
Cebu dominated possession early on, but it was Maharlika that hit first with Basa directing a header to the bottom corner off a Zachary Ford delivery in the 20th minute.
Mert Altinoz and Marius Kore came close to equalizing with their efforts denied by the crossbar. A quick throw in to Gadia caught the Maharlika defense napping and the midfielder beat Javier Coscolluela at his near post to make it 1-1.
Ouano, who fired two goals for the Under-22 Azkals in the AFF Championship in Cambodia last year, entered the match at the start of the second half. He made an immediate impact, intercepting a loose pass from Maharlika defender Ben Diarra, before firing low past Coscolluela.