MANILA, Philippines – With Phil Younghusband not on his usual explosive self, Loyola Meralco looked for somebody else to provide the spark.
Min Ho Park provided that spark in the extra time with the marginal goal that gave United Football League's Loyola Meralco a 2-1 victory against S.League’s Geylang United Eagles and a piece of history Friday night in the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Playing for the first time in one of the region’s most prestigious club competitions, the Sparks valiantly fought for over two hours and was rewarded with a spot in the quarterfinal round.
With the match hanging in the balance and both teams desperately looking for that separation, Park converted from long distance above the penalty box in the 96th minute to break the 1-1 standoff.
The lightning quick goal came after a foiled attack by the Sparks with Mark Hartmann, who earlier scored the equalizer, setting up the ball for Park near the midfield.
Geylang United, who ruled this invitational two years ago, almost stole the match away from the Sparks on a first half goal by former Arsenal youth player Michael King.
King was at the right time and at the right place when he scored on a rebound as Loyola goal keeper Ref Cuaresma was slow to react after the mad scramble in the 43rd minute.
With the Sparks repeatedly attacking the Eagles’ defense in the second half, the breakthrough goal finally came in the 62nd minute.