Football

Loyola Meralco, Air Force forge UFL Cup finals showdown

AKTV/Mark Dimalanta

Phil Younghusband fired a hat trick as Loyola Meralco fought back from three goals down to repulse Kaya Cignal, 5-4, Monday night and reach the finals of the United Football League Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The 24-year-old national team striker starred in the Sparks’ second half onslaught that allowed Loyola Meralco to forge a championship duel with Air Force Phoenix.

In a rematch of last year’s finals, the Airmen got their revenge as they nipped Global, 2-0, thanks to two late goals from veteran Yanti Barsales and Jaylor Soriano.

The matches, aired live by AKTV on IBC 13, lured a total of 3,000 fans at the historic stadium, which hosted football icon David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy just last Saturday when they played the Philippine national team.

One of the stars of that dream game against the Galaxy, Younghusband spearheaded Loyola’s stirring comeback that included five goals in a 29 minute spell, leaving Kaya in despair.

Younghusband struck in the 57th minute, before older brother, James, earned a debatable penalty that Phil slotted home past substituted keeper Christopher Camcam 12 minutes later.

Mark Hartmann tied the game in the 73rd minute with a curling free kick from 20 yards and James Younghusband scored the go-ahead goal with a header off a corner kick five minutes later.

With Kaya’s backline growing weary, Phil completed his hat trick with a brilliant individual effort five minutes from time before Nate Burkey banged in a consolation goal for Kaya in 95th minute.

“It’s a great feeling to win this way,” said Loyola skipper Pat Ozaeta. “We kept on fighting, took it one goal at a time. We were a little overconfident (in the first half) and we got a wake up call with those three goals (from Kaya).”

Liberian striker Prince Boley’s goals in the 12th and 32nd minutes and another from Ivorian forward Eric Dagroh in the 35th minute looked to have sealed the outcome for Kaya.

But the game turned early in the second half when Prince Boley, who scored two goals in the first half, and injured keeper Saba Garamorudi were substituted.

It was a stunning collapse by coach Juan Cutillas’ side as its fluid attack suddenly went cold in the face of the Sparks’ relentless assault.

In a match that had few chances, Barsales was at the right place at the right time when Global failed to clear the ball, slotting it home with goalkeeper Paolo Pascual already out of position, before Soriano sealed the win in the final minute of stoppage time with a right-footed shot just inside the box.

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