The Loyola Meralco Sparks dodged a couple of bullets late in the match to escape with a 3-2 result over Green Archers United FC in the United Football League Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Loyola, the highest-scoring squad during the Cup competition, looked poise to cruise for an easy victory after two goals by Phil Younghusband in the first half. The Filipino-British football star sent the ball through the back of the net in the 35th minute before nailing an easy penalty kick in first half injury time.
The Sparks went ahead 3-nil after a sensational run by Jake Morallo, leading to an easy goal by Korean Byeong Yeol Jeong in the 53rd minute.
But substitutions by Green Archers coach Rodolfo Alicante started to pay dividends, as Shapay Johnson was tackled in the penalty box by Taku Yoshioka. The Japanese was booked for his second yellow card, and was sent off, leaving Loyola with just ten men on the pitch in the 64th minute.
The Green Archers bungled the penalty kick, but a retake was ordered by the referees after a Loyola player went into the box too early. Still, the Green Archers were unable to capitalize, with Arnie Pasinabo’s attempt going wide left.
But Pasinabo quickly shook off the disappointment, giving his team its first goal in the 67th minute to make up for his miss. With the man advantage, the Green Archers kept the attack, and a spectacular header by Reynald Villareal in the 77th minute cut the Loyola lead to just one goal.
The Sparks, however, managed to hold on the lead, helped by some impatient attempts by the Green Archers, to come away with the victory.
“We’re just relieved to get the result,” said Younghusband after the match. The Azkals striker, who won the Golden Boot award in the Cup competition, admitted that he still wasn’t in 100 percent game-shape after the long layoff.
“I just had to kick the ball into the back of the net, I didn’t really have to run for it,” added Younghusband, who credited his teammates for setting him up.
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