By Cedelf P. Tupas (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
MANILA, Philippines – Navy Red Juice joined Air Force Phoenix FC in the knockout stage of the United Football League Cup 2011 with a narrow 1-0 victory over Laos FC Tuesday night in Group E play at the Nomads field in Parañaque.
Former national team striker Marlon Pinero scored in the 19th minute as Navy wrapped up its group assignment with six points to secure its place in the next round.
It was a resounding response for the Sailors, who lost, 2-6, to Air Force last Saturday.
Laos finished third but remained in the running for one of the two wild card berths for the best No. 3 teams among the groups.
Team Socceroos also continued its surprising run, stunning Internacionale, 1-0, to boost its chances of making the last 16.
Laurencio Strangheti converted the rebound off a penalty save by actor-model Jon Avila in the 44th minute that turned out to be the marginal goal in the match.
The Socceroos stood second in the group with six points behind Loyola Meralco, the team that handed them a 15-1 beating in their UFL debut two weeks ago.
Led by Brazilian-Japanese players who moonlight as models as well as former standouts from Southridge, Socceroos also beat Loyola’s sister team, Agila FC, 2-1, last Sunday.
Daniel Matsunaga put Socceroos ahead in the 39th minute, before Renan Evangelista sealed the win 21 minutes into the second half.
With former national team player Floriano Pasilan Jr. scoring a hat-trick, Green Archers, making the most out of their light draw, stamped their class over Dolphins, 6-0, to close in on the top spot in Group F.
Diliman-Victory Liner also reached the knockout round as the No. 2 squad from Group D, after routing Schwarz, 9-1, behind four goals from Ariel Zerrudo and three from Jose Andoni Santos.
Forza, powered by two goals from Antonio Celdran, bounced back with a 4-2 triumph over Pasargad to move into second in Group F ahead of Dolphins and Pasargad on goal difference.