By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—National team strikers Phil Younghusband and Nate Burkey sparkled as Loyola Meralco Sparks and Kaya Cignal scored contrasting victories Saturday in the United Football League Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Younghusband fired a tournament-high seven goals in a 15-1 demolition of newcomer Socceroos in Group B, while Burkey delivered a hat-trick to lift 10-man Kaya Cignal to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Diliman Victory Liner.
The Sparks brandished their souped-up attack with Mark Hartmann also drilling in five goals and Matthew Hartmann, Jake Morallo and Davide Cortina adding a goal each.
With the Hartmanns striking in the first 10 minutes and Younghusband already slotting five goals by the 30th minute, the Sparks merely went through the motions in the second half against the overmatched Socceroos, whose squad was bannered by former Southridge players and Brazilian-Japanese bets.
Socceroos skipper Mike Reyes salvaged some pride with his 55th minute strike averting the shutout.
The win allowed the Sparks to grab the headstart in Group B, which also includes Agila FC and Internacionale FC.
The 26-year-old Burkey carried his good form with the national team to Kaya as he helped his side rally from a goal down twice to pull off the improbable win.
Kaya remained second in Group C behind Diliman on goal difference, although it has a game in hand.
In an enthralling duel aired live on AKTV on IBC13, the wards of coach Juan Cutillas survived despite skipper and central defender Aly Borromeo leaving the game late in the first half because of injury and Lexton Moy sent off in the 40th minute.
Coming off a 7-0 crushing of ABC Stars, Diliman took a shock lead in the 2nd minute when Jinggoy Valmayor, finding himself with plenty of space on top of the box, rifled home from 20 yards.
Kaya equalized with Burkey, set up by Jason Sabio’s throw in, doing well to keep the ball despite pressure from Diliman before his deflected shot found the back of the net in the 20th minute.
Former national player Ariel Zerrudo restored Diliman’s advantage with an instinctive strike from an Anto Gonzales through ball seven minutes from the break.
But Kaya, sparked by the introduction of Anton del Rosario, Masa Omura and Ruffy Llorente, gained a foothold on the game and kept the pressure on Diliman.
Kaya’s persistence was rewarded by Burkey’s 55th minute penalty after Deo Segunial fouled Adrian Semblat in the area.
Burkey put the finishing touches to a sensational performance by latching onto Omura’s dummy and slotting it past Jerome Leung.