LOYOLA Meralco moved a step away from capturing an elusive silverware in the United Football League following a 2-0 victory over Green Archers United in the UFL Cup on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Perennial contenders that always come up short in either the Cup or the League, the Sparks are finally a win short of notching their first-ever title after blanking the Archers in the semifinals.
They meet the winner of the Pachanga-Diliman-Philippine Air Force Final Four match in the final. The game is still being played at posting time.
As usual, Phil Younghusband came through on offense, scoring both goals — all on free kicks — for the Sparks, whose rejigged defense was also remarkable after coming up with yet another clean sheet.
Coming in as the underdogs, the Archers tried to be more aggressive and dictate the tempo against the powerhouse Sparks and were almost rewarded early in the game when Jessie Martindale scored, only for his shot to be disallowed for him being offside.
Instead, it was the Sparks who opened the scoring a few minutes later courtesy of Younghusband, a set piece decoy, who fired a missile that went past goalkeeper Patrick Deyto.
Younghusband doubled the lead 13 minutes into the second half when he slotted home a quality free kick from the left side past his young Azkals teammate.
“To be fair to them, they tried to play the game their way,” Younghusband said of the Archers. “They asked us a question if we were willing to fight back against them and we showed today we were willing to fight and that’s what got us the victory.”
“We had a good game except for the two fouls my team committed (that led to the goals),” Archers coach Rodolfo Alicante said.
Usually brother James Younghusband and Chad Gould are designated to take free kicks, but Younghusband was glad to score two times this time.
“James has got two and Chad has got one, and I thought: ‘why don’t I join in?’” Younghusband said with a smile.