Fiery Younghusband lifts Loyola to Smart title game
Loyola Meralco again banked on Phil Younghusband to edge Stallion, 2-1, in extra time last night and reach the finals of the PFF Smart Club Championship at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The country’s leading international scorer curled home a free kick from the edge of the penalty box in the 98th minute to lift the Sparks, who face either Ceres-La Salle or Global in the finals on Saturday.
“When you have Phil (Younghusband) in the team, you always have a chance of scoring,” said Loyola coach Simon McMenemy. “The goal took a lot of pressure off us.”
Younghusband pounced on a weary Stallion backline, forcing Sean Bateau to make a desperate lunge right at the edge of the area. What looked like a penalty, however, turned out to be just a free kick, but it hardly mattered as Younghusband found the top corner.
Matthew Hartmann scored on a deflected effort to give Loyola the lead in the 10th minute, but Stallion equalized through Simone Rota four minutes before the break.
The Sparks missed several golden chances in the first half with Younghusband and Hartmann both wasting opportunities.
Graham Caygill had a big chance to fire the match winner a minute from time, but Stallion keeper Bandelin Fong denied the substitute.
Landry Nguene proved a threat for Stallion early on but the Cameroonian striker faded as the match reached extra time.
“It was tough because Stallion worked very hard and threw everything at us,” said Mc-Menemy.
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