By Myke Miravite
MANILA, Philippines – With Loyola Meralco looking on the verge of another disappointing result, substitute Freddy Gonzales turned a slim one-goal advantage into a 4-1 rout as the Sparks thumped Philippine Army – GTI FC in the 2014 United Football League, Saturday, April 5, at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City.
The veteran Loyola striker, who checked into the game in the hour mark, scored a hat trick in a span of six minutes to power Loyola back to the winning track after going winless in their last three outings.The Sparks dropped to third place last week after Global and Kaya came up with huge wins but thanks to Gonzales’ stirring off-the-bench performance, Loyola improves to second place with 36 points, just two points behind the league-leading Global FC.
Despite putting Loyola on top 58 minutes into the match, Azkals striker Phil Younghusband was substituted moments before the hour mark after the prolific scorer wasted several plays early on but it proved to be a fruitful move for coach Vince Santos as Gonzales stepped up and scored his first goal in the 67th.With Army still shattered by Loyola’s second goal, Gonzales then scored back-to-back goals in the 72nd and 74th as he completed his hat trick and put the game away from the Troopers’ reach to give the Sparks a three-goal cushion.
The win boosts Loyola’s record to 11-3-3 while Army drops back to seventh place with a 5-2-9 slate.
Army faces Pachanga next on April 10 as the league makes way for the Azkals’ Qatar training camp, rescheduling the Loyola-Pasargad tiff to April 29.