MANILA, Philippines - No Phil Younghusband, no problem.
Even with the Younghusband brothers still recuperating from their respective injuries, the Loyola Meralco Sparks tightened its grip of the top spot as they clobbered Philippine Army - GTI FC, 3-1, while Stallion Gilligan's FC also went away with a 4-1 victory over Green
Archers United in the 2014 United Football League, Tuesday, February 25, at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City.
Simon Greatwich and Joo Young Lee continue to step up for the depleted Loyola side as they each scored a goal in the first half while late-game substitute James Younghusband displayed composure in the penalty spot to propel their squad four points clear of second place Global FC.
Winning only once in their last three outings while drawing the other two, the Sparks are under a tight schedule at the start of the second round, playing their third match this week but that did not stop coach Vince Santos' side as they cruised to an easy 3-1 beating of the tentative Armymen.
Philippine Army held Loyola for most of the first half as the Sparks kept missing their marks in the offensive but Greatwich was able to pierce through the defense in the 37th to bring his team up, 1-nil.
Lee then doubled Loyola's lead just five minutes later as perfectly connected with Matt Hartmann in the 42nd minute for 2-0.
Making matters worse for the hapless Army crew, Ronel Gener picked up his second yellow 69 minutes into the match resulting in a penalty kick for Loyola with James Younghusband drilling in the rebound from his own miss.
Gener's brother, Roel pulled one back for Army in the dying moments of the match with an 89th minute consolation goal.
The win is Loyola's eighth this season against two draws and no losses as they stay as league leaders with 26 points to show.
Army, meanwhile, plummets to 3-1-5 but remains fifth in the table with 10 points.
Stallion 4, GAU 1
Reigning titlists Stallion Gilligan's FC continues their conquest to defend their crown as they posted a come-from-behind 4-1 win over Green Archers United in the night's main show.
Coach Ernie Nierras' boys had to overcome a one-goal deficit as Robert Lopez Mendy brought Green Archers on top early in the game, scoring a fourth minute strike for 1-nil.
Down in the early goings, Stallion kept its cool and got rewarded as they scored two quick goals against Patrcik Deyto, with Filipino-Italian Simone Rota tying the game in the 21st with a header from Hamed Hajimehdi's cross and Ruben Doctora nailing the go-ahead barely two minutes later.
Ronnie Aguisanda was left red-faced near the hour mark as he suffered the ignominy of scoring an own goal that put Stallion up 3-1 56 minutes into the match.
Nathan Alquiros then wrapped up the night in the 85th to complete Stallion's three-goal triumph against the Chieffy Caligdong-less Green Archers side.
Stallion keeps pace with the league-leaders as they improved their record to 4-2-3 to remain fourth with 14 points while GAU absorbs its fifth loss this year winning just one outing and drawing the other four for seven points and seventh place in the table. -