Karl Decena, InterAKTV
The Loyola Meralco Sparks marched on to the semifinals after edging out Global FC, 2-0, in a battle of two powerhouse clubs in the United Football Cup on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium.
Coming off the bench, star striker Phil Younghusband delivered for the Sparks, setting the tone by scoring the match’s first goal before assisting on Loyola’s second shot which pulled them away with the victory.
Loyola and Global engaged in a nip-and-tuck affair in the first half, with both teams failing to strike a goal.
As he entered the match as a substitute at the 34th minute, Younghusband immediately made his presence felt for Loyola after almost breaking the scoreless deadlock right before the halftime whistle.
The Sparks went on to find multiple offensive chances at the start of the second half after finally getting out of Global’s aggressive defense in the first half.
Chad Gould found himself on a breakaway at the 58th minute. He then passed the ball to the trailing Younghusband, who quickly slotted the goal from the top of the box to give Loyola a 1-nil lead.
As Global failed to succeed in an offensive play at the 76th minute, the Sparks quickly switched gears for a counterattack. Younghusband, who was at the center of the pitch, threw a long-range pass to the streaking Matt Hartmann, who buried a shot from the left flank to pad Loyola’s lead to 2-nil.
Global still tried to come back late in the match with an attack at the 89th minute. But Sparks goalkeeper Baba Sampana held his ground between the sticks, deflecting two furious shots by Global to keep a clean sheet and hand Loyola the victory.
Loyola advanced to the semifinals to face Green Archers United Globe. The Sparks also continued their unblemished run this season, scoring 63 goals and conceding none so far in the tournament.
With a star-studded lineup filled with national team members and heralded imports, Global had an abrupt end to its campaign after being regarded as a favorite to win the Cup.