Meralco Sparks thwart Armymen, keep share of UFL lead with Kaya
MANILA, Philippines—James Younghusband struck in the 79th minute as Loyola Meralco edged Army, 2-1, Sunday night to grab top spot in the first division of the United Football League at the Nomads field in Parañaque.
The national team standout linked up with younger brother Phil before firing past Eduard Sacapano from close range as the Sparks kept their perfect start to the season.
Kaya later joined Loyola Meralco on top with a narrow 2-1 win over Green Archers United at the UMak pitch.
Lexton Moy scored two goals in an enthralling second half as Kaya followed up its 1-nil upset of Air Force with another workmanlike display.
Mark Hartmann opened the scoring with a 25-yard strike in the 18th minute, but Army equalized through Meliton Pelayo 12 minutes later.
Phil Younghusband, who scored twice in the 3-2 win over Green Archers last week, wasted a couple of golden opportunities early in the second half, while substitute Jake Morallo was denied by Sacapano from close range in the 75th minute.
But just when it looked like the Armymen were about to deny the Sparks maximum points, the Younghusband brothers joined forces with James providing the clinical finish from the right.
The Sparks now have six points from two matches, ahead of Nomads with four, while Armymen stayed at the middle of the table with three points they collected from the 2-1 win over Global last Sunday.
“It was a tough match and we had to be very professional against a very experienced team,” said James Younghusband.
Despite playing for the Azkals the night before, Roel Gener and Boogie Margarse held their ground against the Sparks’ loaded roster.
Sacapano who also played for the Azkals Saturday needed to be alert to stop Hartmann from close range in the 10th minute.
Given time and space on top of the box, Hartmann made no mistake, rifling home a low shot to make it 1-nil.
Army caught the Sparks on the counterattack as Pelayo latched onto a long ball to score past an approaching Ref Cuaresma.
The Sparks dominated the second half and, with Morallo coming in to add bite to midfield, Loyola cranked up the pressure, leading to Younghusband’s game-winner.
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