Sparks widen lead; Kaya Makati secures crucial triumph
James Younghusband came off the bench to power FC Meralco, 2-1, on Saturday night and extend its lead at the top of the Philippines Football League at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Coming in for midfielder Simon Greatwich at the hour mark, Younghusband rose highest to glance home a throw-in from Tyler Matas for the winning goal in the 67th minute.
An own goal from defender Masaki Yanagawa in the 23rd minute put the Sparks in front, before a well-worked JPV counterattack finished off by Satoshi Otomo five minutes later made it 1-1.
The dogfight continued well into the second half until Younghusband came in and provided the aerial threat that the Sparks needed to break the deadlock.
Meralco limited JPV to a single chance late on when Takashi Odawara fired a volley off target from just outside the box.
The result strengthened Meralco’s hold of top spot with 23 points, five ahead of JPV, which saw its five-match winning streak snapped by the same Meralco side that beat them, 1-0, last May 20.
“Our bench was the difference,” said Meralco coach Aris Caslib.
JPV missed starters Camelo Tacusalme and top scorer Takumi Uesato due to injuries and coach Dan Padernal believes it proved to be a huge factor for the Marikina side.
“It would have been a different story if Uesato played,” said Padernal.
Meanwhile, Kaya FC Makati secured a crucial away win at the expense of 10-man Davao Aguilas, 5-1, at Davao Del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City on Sunday.
Joven Bedic bagged a brace for Kaya, while Alfred Osei, Eric Giganto and Kenshiro Daniels found the back of the net for Kaya, which climbed to fourth spot with 17 points.
Bedic scored from close range in the 20th minute, but Nikola Grubjesic struck four minutes after the break for the equalizer.
The match tilted back to Kaya’s favor when Jason Cordova was sent off in the 55th minute for a nasty challenge on Marwin Angeles.
Kaya quickly capitalized with Osei heading home off a corner three minutes later, before Bedic grabbed his second with another clinical finish.
Daniels sealed the rout with a 35-yard free kick to the top corner as Kaya rolled to its most convincing win of the season.
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