Meralco Sparks reach semifinals of Singapore CupBy Cedelf Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SINGAPORE—The Loyola Meralco Sparks advanced to the semifinals of the Singapore Cup Sunday night, after a 2-2 draw completed a 5-3 victory on aggregate over Kanbawza of Myanmar at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
First half goals from James Younghusband and Jake Morallo helped secure a 2-2 draw in the second leg as the Sparks set up a showdown with Singapore League powerhouse Tampines in the last four in October.
The Sparks soaked up the early pressure from the Burmese side, before Younghusband opened the scoring in the 25th minute, after latching unto a perfectly-weighed diagonal ball from Morallo.
Younghusband had plenty of time and space after eluding a rushing KBZ keeper Yawai Zin, firing into an empty net from a tight angle.
Often criticized for bungling scoring chances, Morallo made no mistake this time. Mark Hartmann’s free kick from near the halfline found Morallo at the far post and he followed up his saved header to double the lead in the 37th minute.
The Sparks missed key players Davide Cortina due to suspension and Alex Elnar and Peter Fadrigalan because of commitments. But it hardly mattered as Anto Gonzales proved up to the task at midfield, while Morallo rose to the occasion. Pat Ozaeta, making his first start in two months, also acquitted himself well at rightback in place of Elnar.
There was cause for concern for the Sparks early in the second half when Phil Younghusband limped off in the 64th minute over what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Jayson Cutamora, who made his debut in the tournament.