Sparks rip Nomads, grab UFL No.1 spot
Held to a draw by rival Kaya last week, Loyola Meralco delivered an emphatic response with a 5-0 thrashing of a battle-weary Nomads side Tuesday night to climb to the top of the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium.
Midfielder Mark Hartmann produced a couple of sublime strikes, while Chad Gould, Phil Younghusband and Simon Greatwich finished off wonderfully worked buildup plays as the Sparks came through with their finest performance yet this season.
The Sparks now have 16 out of a possible 18 points, moving ahead of Global and Stallion, which both have a game in hand.
Earlier, Kaya gave new coach David Perkovic his first victory and snapped a three-game winless run with a 3-0 drubbing of Army to dislodge Pachanga Diliman from fifth spot.
Kaya striker Sean Iliff, who scored the equalizer against Loyola last week, continued his solid play with another goal, while OJ Porteria and Janrick Soriano struck in a second half which Kaya thoroughly dominated.
But the match will be remembered more for the unsportsmanlike behavior of Army defender Rodrigo Betita, who kicked the ball at linesman Ronaldo Yurag in protest to what he claimed was an offside on Soriano’s goal in stoppage time.
Already booked by referee Ariel Montana for his action, Betita went after Yurag anew, kicking the ball from under him, before cooler heads stopped him from further action. Montana was left with no choice but to show Betita a red card for the incident.
It was an ugly end to a match that had several officiating gaffes where Kaya was denied a penalty and Army defender Ed Gempisaw went unpunished for sticking a knee on Kaya striker Eric Dagroh in the first half.
Hartmann scored on a curling free kick in the 37th minute, before Gould fired home an acrobatic volley at the stroke of halftime.
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