United City FC (UCFC) returned to the domestic scene with a piece of silverware after finishing the Kaya-Iloilo reign 3-2 on Sunday for the 2022 Copa Paulino Alcantara at the Philippine Football Federation National Training Center in Carmona, Cavit.
Two goals from Pika Menegishi and team captain Mike Ott in the second half enabled United City to win, albeit after some fighting towards the end of the elimination round.
Minegishi’s parity and Ott’s victory were highlighted by a thunderous strike by Jhan Jhan Meliza after Kaya took a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Keya eventually took home the runner-up medal, failing to win three Copas in a second and four editions in a row.
The winners of the 2020 Philippine Football League have decided to skip the previous Copa edition, which was the only tournament held during last year’s domestic season due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
United CTO has come up with a brand new roster following the departures of key figures such as Stefan Schrock and Bienvenido Maranon.
The final saw UCFC advance early in the 11th minute when former Kaya native Kenshiro Daniels defeated Carlyle Mitchell and goalkeeper Zach Banjon, who went out of the box, in an attempt to bounce into an empty net.
Kaya, however, equalized about three minutes later when Meliza passed to Robert Lopez Mendy, whose first attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Anthony Pinthas before a shot on the rebound.
The 31st saw Meliza deliver one of the best goals of the competition, throwing a shot from 20 yards that a diving pinthas could not stop. The goal was Meliza’s third, a symbol of his great Copa play.
Ott, who later won the Golden Ball award for Copper’s best player, then took advantage of Kieran’s defensive failure because he was unmarked and fired a right-footed shot from Mark Hartman’s corner kick, which put United City ahead.
Kaya tried to equalize again but begged for a chance until the end and UCFC was able to win the domestic trophy for the second time.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access Philippine Daily Inquirer and 70+ other headlines, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download by 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.