Karl Decena, InterAKTV
Stallion Sta. Lucia came back from a halftime deficit to trump the Loyola Meralco Sparks, 4-2, in United Football League action Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill in Taguig.
Spanish striker Rufo Sanchez led Stallion with two goals, while Lee Joo Young and Nathaniel Alquiros chipped in one apiece to help their squad clinch the top spot temporarily in the League table.
Stallion initially played catch-up early as Loyola held the lead at the half.
Phil Younghusband scored the match’s first goal, running past a defender to get himself a clear shot at the 31st minute to give the Sparks a 1-nil lead. Sanchez then answered with a goal at the 37th minute off a miss by his teammate to tie the match at 1-1.
But the Sparks quickly regained the lead, as Matt Hartmann buried a goal off a Jeong Byeong Yeol assist in a counterattack at the 39th minute to help Loyola end halftime with a 2-1 edge.
Stallion came out roaring after the break, with Lee making a quick run from the half line before sinking a shot from the top of the box at the 52nd minute to even the match at 2-2.
Sanchez then nailed a goal from the right flank at the 56th minute to put Stallion up, 3-2.
The Sparks tried to score the equalizer throughout the second half, but their attacks were neutralized by Stallion’s defense.
Loyola’s best attempt to tie the match came at the 65th minute, when Jeong found himself free for a breakaway shot, which went way off the mark.
Stallion then prevented any comeback for Loyola, as Alquiros scored a goal from a Lee pass at the 97th minute to seal the victory for his team.
The woes continued for the Sparks seconds before the end of the match after James Younghusband was sent off due to the second yellow card he incurred in the game.
With the victory, Stallion overtook defending champion Global FC on top of the standings with eight wins and a loss after nine matches. Global will face Kaya FC on Thursday to finish the first round of fixtures.
Loyola, meanwhile, suffered its first loss of the season after six wins and two draws to settle for 20 points and third place in the League table.