Stars Phil Younghusband, James Younghusband, and Mark Hartmann took care of the offense, while the rest of the Loyola Meralco Sparks turned in their finest defensive performance of the tournament to deal Kaya FC its first loss in the United Football League Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
James Younghusband opened the scoring for the Sparks, scoring on a header off a corner kick by Hartmann at the 13th minutes. Loyola controlled the action for most of the first half, with Hartmann narrowly missing two shots at goal.
But Loyola was able to break through once again, after a missed clearance by Kaya defender Jason Sabio on a lob pass by Hartmann allowed Phil Younghusband to score a chip shot at the 31st minute to give the Sparks a 2-nil lead heading into halftime.
However, the story of the game was the Loyola defense, which kept sheets clean for the first time in league competition. The usually-potent Kaya offense was rendered toothless as the Sparks controlled the midfield. Even the early entry of Azkals forward Nate Burkey did not improve Kaya’s fortunes.
It was the second consecutive impressive victory for Loyola after its embarrassing 4-1 loss to Stallion last week. The Sparks rebounded from that defeat by winning over Global FC, 4-3, last Wednesday.
Hartmann said that Loyola went back to the drawing boards after the loss to Stallion.
“We’ve changed our formation, we switched to a 4-4-2,” said Hartmann. “We’ve got six points in two games, so we couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Kaya, for its part, lost after winning its first three matches in the tournament.