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Meralco struggles past Ilocos XI, 2-1

by Jonas Terrado

Jake Morallo scored the eventual winner in the second half as Meralco-Manila overcame the tough challenge of Ilocos United, 2-1, Saturday to wrest the solo lead in the Philippines Football League at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Morallo headed the go-ahead score off a cross by Taj Minniecon in the 52nd minute to help the Sparks survive the upset scare of the Ilocano side for their second win in the eight-team professional football league.

Meralco won its first home match of the league’s inaugural season despite allowing an opening goal courtesy of ex-Spark Graham Caygill 14 minutes after the opening whistle.

Tyler Matas leveled the count five minutes later after scoring off Ilocos goalkeeper Baba Sampan, also a former Meralco mainstay.

“We have a strong rebound mentality, we just need to work on our killer instinct,” said Meralco coach Aris Caslib.

Meanwhile, Davao Aguilas played its first-ever home match at presstime against JPV-Marikina at the Davao del Sur Sports Complex.

Davao and JPV were eyeing their first win of the season after battling their respective opponents to scoreless ties in the opening weekend.