Sparks toil to thwart gritty LaosBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
FAR from its best, Loyola Meralco still fashioned out a narrow 2-1 triumph over Laos Thursday night at the start of its Group C campaign in the UFL Cup at University of Makati field.
Fil-British defender Chad Gould scored his debut goal for the Sparks, while James Younghusband helped seal the win in first-half stoppage time, before Laos found a consolation goal through Lexter Maravilla.
In Group A, newcomer General Trias continued its surprising run with a 2-0 blanking of Team Socceroo.
The victory boosted General Trias to the top of the group with two wins and a draw, ahead of reigning league champion Global, which still has a game in hand.
Missing first-choice goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma and midfield general Anto Gonzales, who are on national team duty, the Sparks got off to a shaky start, conceding a 16th-minute penalty.
But Nino Ochoterena shot wide from the penalty spot to the relief of the Sparks, who returned only last Monday after their two-leg semifinal clash with S-League powerhouse Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup.
The Sparks still had Phil and James Younghusband in the side after the brothers were ruled out of the national team’s clash against Bahrain. And their presence came in handy as the Sparks toiled against the stubborn second division side.