Three goals, late in the second half, propelled Loyola Meralco Sparks FC to a bounce-back win, 4-0, over the hapless Team Socceroo FC, Tuesday, in the ongoing second round of action of the 2015 United Football League at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
The lower-seeded Team Socceroo made their plans known as soon as the kickoff whistle sounded. The white-shirts settled to a defensive stance, as the ball was put into play. At the second minute, a pass from Loyola’s captain-of-the-day, Phil Younghusband, found Graham Caygill, but the attempt ended with Team Socceroo’s goalkeeper Baba Sampana to collecting it.
In the ensuing play, Younghusband tried to get the ball into the box, but the shot sailed out. Furthermore, Loyola continued to send passes into their attacking third, but the compact defense of the opponent dealt with these incursions comfortably, making it difficult for Loyola to find the goal. Alvin Sarmiento had several impressive runs on the flanks; however, his crosses to Caygill could not be converted, as the burly forward was either called for offside or misfired his shots.
The pressure kept on piling from the Loyola side, and in the 41st minute, the league’s fourth-placers finally got rewarded. Napoleon Junquera Bustillo found himself unmarked on the left flank and connected a low cross to Caygill, who tucked the ball into the back of the net, for the first goal of the match. In the following play, Caygill would have recorded a brace, had he managed to convert Sarmiento’s pass. Charlie Beaton acquired another chance for the leading squad, but faltered on the opportunity as the halftime whistle was blown.
The tight defense of Team Socceroo continually caused problems for Loyola, however, the home side kept on aggressively attacking their defense in hopes of breaking it. Sampana, who had a solid outing for most of the match, had a mental lapse in the 65th minute that could have been costly. The Socceroo custodian tried to save a loose ball from Loyola only to be caught outside the penalty area, which reward Loyola a free kick. The free kick, taken by Younghusband, ended up being blocked by the wall. Following that occurence, Loyola was granted a corner kick when Curt Dizon, who came in just three minutes after the previous free kick, had his shot deflected. By retrieving the ball from that dangerous position caused by the corner kick, Sampana redeemed himself from his previous blooper.
Team Socceroo’s Alexandre Recht broke free from the offside trap and attempted a shot from inside the box, which was easily gathered by Loyola’s goalkeeper Saba Sadeghi Garmoudi. When Loyola controlled possession at the 74th minute, Beaton sent the ball into the six-yard box from the right, which Younghusband calmly guided into the goal to double their side’s lead. That proved to be the blow on Team Socceroo’s confidence, as they conceded two more goals thereafter.
After Recht was whistled for another offside infraction at the 84th minute, Paolo Enrile was called for a foul near the edge of the box on the other side of the pitch. Younghusband made it count in the following free kick with a looping shot finding the top corner for his second goal and his team’s third. Two minutes into regulation, the Azkals Captain sealed the deal for his club when he connected to Lee Joo Young for the final goal of the match. Loyola Meralco Sparks walked away with the 4-0 victory to bounce back from their lost last Saturday against Ceres FC. Team Socceroo suffered another setback following their Sunday’s defeat to Manila Jeepney.
“The scoreline says 4-0 because once you get two or three, looks like you can score more. But for me, second half is a very sloppy performance,” Loyola’s Head Coach Simon McMenemy stated. The former national team mentor felt they started strong in the first half, wherein they dominated the game. McMenemy also shared that they should not settle for what happened in this match where they made chance after chance only for Younghusband to convert on them. “As good as the first half was, the second half was very sloppy. And they knew that. I think they were not particularly happy with the second half performance. At least, it’s a good thing,” he ended.