PFL: Cuaresma comes up big as Kaya Makati, JPV Marikina figure in thrilling draw

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 17, 2017 05:06 PM
Cuaresma comes up big as Kaya, JPV figure in thrilling draw
(Photo courtesy of The Manansala/Kaya Makati FC)

16 August 2017 — Ref Cuaresma pulled off a string of big saves to ensure Kaya Makati and JPV Marikina shared the spoils at the University of Makati on Wednesday afternoon. Takumi Uesato's brace was canceled out by goals from Robert Lopez Mendy and Adam Reed in what was an exciting 2-2 draw. Makati was without the services of Philippines Football League top scorer, Jordan Mintah and captain Masanari Omura due to suspension.

"It's better to get one point rather than nothing. It was a really tough game. We conceded easy goals — goals from mistakes," said Makati head coach Noel Marcaida. "On the positive side, the players were able to respond in the second half. We had crucial chances where we could've done better. But I give credit to our goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma. For me, this was his best performance. He saved Kaya to get that one point."

Despite his heroics in the game, there was nothing Cuaresma could do to prevent Marikina's opener in the second minute. Uesato beat the offside trap, controlled well on his chest and fired into the top corner to put the visitors in the driving seat right from the onset. Makati responded in the 16th minute with a goal from Lopez Mendy. An attempted clearance bounced off of Antonio Ugarte and into the path of the striker, who reacted quickest. He poked the ball past the onrushing keeper, before a painful collision.

Ten minutes later, Cuaresma pulled off his first two stops of the match, saving a header and the resulting point blank rebound from a free kick. Six minutes from the break, though, JPV managed to take back the lead, with Uesato poking an unconventional shot into the net. The chance came from an error from center back Alfred Osei, who had his pocket picked after attempting to dribble past two attackers.

The second half saw Kaya come out looking much more dangerous in attack, and it paid off less than five minutes into the period. JPV's goalkeeper punched out a long free kick delivery, but only until Ugarte, whose volley was handled by a Marikina defender, resulting in a penalty being called. Adam Reed cooly dispatched the spot kick to tie the game at two-a-piece. 

Ref would later deny JPV one more time from a breakaway to keep the scores level. Right before the end of regulation, substitute Eric Giganto almost scored a dramatic late winner, but his shot went narrowly wide after doing well to race past Marikina's defense.

"I think we missed out on three points. We were leading at the half. But we gave away a penalty and it ended in a draw. The positive thing is that we played better than we did in the last game against Kaya (which ended 2-0 in favor of Makati). There were a few opportunities to win the game, but we didn't take them. One point is good for us," said JPV head coach Dan Padernal. "We know that Ref is a quality goalkeeper, he's a veteran and a former Azkal (national team player). I know Ref will stand tall in these situations where he's badly needed."

For his contributions in between the sticks, Cuaresma was named Man of the Match of the thrilling encounter.

"Coming into this game, the team really wanted to win. We had to overcome a large obstacle because, we lost two key players — one at the back (Masanari Omura), and one up front (Jordan Mintah). The good thing about it is, the players responded well. Everything was collective today. I just did my part," he said. "JPV caught us early. The goals against us were our own mistakes. But when you're down 1-0, this is the time where you don't point fingers and help each other. Credit goes to coach Noel and the whole coaching staff, and the whole team. I just played my part. As one of the veterans, it's my job to step up."

Kaya next travel to Cebu to face Global on Saturday.

"This point will give us a booster heading into Saturday's game. We will work on our recovery because Saturday's game will be our third in eight days. It's not easy," said Marcaida. "It's already a given (the tough schedule), so we just have to manage it in order for our players to perform 100%."

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