Five-star Loyola Sparks return to winning ways behind Younghusband brace
By Karlo Sacamos
LOYOLA Meralco regained its ruthless form in blanking Pasargad, 5-0, on Tuesday night in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium.
Fresh from a 2-3 loss to second-running Global FC last Saturday, the league-leading Sparks got back on the winning track as Phil Younghusband fired a brace, while Freddy Gonzalez, Matthew Hartmann, and Jake Morallo chipped in a goal apiece against their overmatched rivals.
While the offense was abundant as usual, the defense looked solid anew for the league-leading Sparks, who welcomed back top center-back Joaco Cañas after the Spaniard was sidelined with measles for a few games.
“Apart from his defensive skills, it’s really his leadership (that we missed),” Sparks coach Vince Santos said. “Joaco is someone who can command the defense to organize.”
The win enabled the Sparks to once again create some breathing room between them and closest pursuer Global by going four points clear at the top with 29 points, while keeping Pasargad at the bottom of the nine-team standings.
Wearing the captain’s armband anew with brother James still out with a quadriceps injury, Younghusband opened the floodgates 29 minutes into game—a few minutes after Pasargad recruit Mohsen Akbari almost unlocked the Loyola defense with a neat bicycle kick that just hit the crossbar.
It was in the second half, though, where the Sparks flashed their fiery form and pulled away. Gonzalez scored a header in the 57th minute, thanks to a cross from Hartmann, who was on the firing end next with a strike from a quick counterattack 11 minutes later.
Younghusband scored his second goal in the 86th, before Morallo completed the scoring party a minute into stoppage time.
While Cañas returned, backline partner Sam Bonney will miss the next game after the African defender was sent off for picking up a second yellow card with only a minute before stoppage time.