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PFL Roundup: Younghusband brothers grace Meralco-Manila exit on a high



Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times PFL Roundup: Younghusband brothers grace Meralco-Manila exit on a high Football News PFL  Stallion-Laguna FC Robert Lopez Mendy Milan Nikolic Matt Hartmann Kaya FC-Makati James Younghusband Harrison Sawyer FC Meralco Manila Davao Aguilas Dan Villarico 2017 PFL Season

Only four teams saw action in the latest round of fixtures in the Philippines Football League.

Here’s how each match went down this weekend:

Nikolić stars in Younghusband’s farewell victory against new club Davao Aguilas

For the last time, Phil and James Younghusband guided Meralco-Manila to a league triumph on Saturday against Davao Aguilas with the score of 3-2.

Phil provided two assists in the match, one of which benefited his elder brother James who marked his last match in Meralco colors with a goal. Sharing the spotlight with the duo is Nemanja Nikolić, whose brace ultimately propelled the Sparks back on top of the table.

Some would say it was just another day in the office for the brothers, who have done this feat time and time again throughout their careers. However, this felt truly different than all the previous ones as this served as the last game of the former Chelsea academy players with the Sparks. Right after the final whistle, the brothers have the Davao project in their minds.

In what was an entertaining match between two cleans situated at the opposing ends of the table, the hosts reminded their visitors of their potential. Australian forward Harrison Sawyer put Davao ahead with an instinctive move punishing the Sparks’ defensive lapse in the 33rd minute.

The Manileños were able to respond in the 41st minute through Milan Nikolić’s header off a Phil Younghusband corner yet it was not enough to keep the game tied by halftime. New signing Matthew Hartmann from Global-Cebu sneaked the ball past Ace Villanueva to restore Davao’s lead come the interval.

With their backs against the wall, the Sparks banked on their experienced duo to lift them back into the match. Phil teed up brother James four minutes after the hour mark to level the scores at 2-2 in the 64th minute. Having dominated the second half, the visitors took advantage of the momentum as Nikolić struck once more in the 66th minute to give Meralco-Manila the lead for good.

“It was an emotional match,” standout defender Nikolić uttered after his team’s win. “Thanks to the crowd and thanks to Phil and James for all they have done for the club,” he added.

Meralco-Manila move back on top of the standings and stayed there after results the following day. They will usher in a new era without the Younghusbands when they host Global-Cebu this Tuesday.

Resurgent Stallion-Laguna derails Kaya-Makati’s winning momentum

Enjoying a five-game winning streak, Kaya-Makati knew they were up for a big test when they squared off against Stallion-Laguna in Biñan Sunday afternoon. The Stallions are on a three-game winning streak themselves, slowly announcing their intentions to fight for a spot in the playoffs.

At the end of a gruelling 90-minute affair, two of the league’s hottest teams shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Kaya looked to be the dominant team in the first half and came really close to breaking the deadlock in the 34th minute. Robert Lopez Mendy was in a good position to score and was only denied by the post.

Meanwhile, Gabriele Mascazzini provided the closest opportunity for Stallion to draw first blood. The Swiss midfielder forced Ref Cuaresma into action with the ex-Loyola custodian doing well to keep the scores level at the break.

Shortly after the interval, Kaya-Makati found what they were looking for thanks to the Senegalese striker. Lopez Mendy nodded Janrick Soriano’s well-placed cross into the back of the net. At that moment, they only had 40 minutes to see out the result to record their sixth consecutive league victory.

Stallion didn’t relish the prospect of Kaya-Makati ending their four-game unbeaten streak right at their own backyard so they dug deep for an equalizer. Just four minutes in after falling behind, the Laguna-based team pegged their opponents back thanks to the alertness of Dan Villarico. He stepped up to slot the ball in past Cuaresma, who couldn’t hold on to Jhan-Jhan Melliza’s attempt.

Eager to score another goal that would perhaps give them all three points for good, Kaya-Makati pressed hard to breach the disciplined Stallion-Laguna defense. Unlike in some of their recent wins when they would pop late goals to seal the points, there was nothing the Makati team could do against the resilient Stallion squad that is now undefeated in the last five games.

“The month of July we did well. Having seven games unbeaten – drawing two and winning five – it’s a pretty good record. We were able to meet our objective of getting more points in the month of July. Now we regroup and focus our attention on facing Meralco next week,” Kaya-Makati Noel Marcaida assessed after the game.

By failing to win, Kaya-Makati lost their grip on the top spot despite staying unbeaten for the whole month. At the very least, they were able to slightly extend the gap to four from Ceres-Negros and Global-Cebu. The two Visayan sides round up the top four with the bottom four still unchanged.

Rescheduled Matches

Two matches were called off this weekend for various reasons. Ceres-Negros and Global-Cebu’s scheduled meeting on Saturday in order to give way for the former’s preparation for the AFC Cup Zonal Finals. The Negrenses will face Home united in the two-legged series beginning this coming Wednesday.

The match between Ilocos United and JPV-Marikina, on the other hand, will be played 10 days later in Vigan. The meeting was postponed on Sunday due to Typhoon Gorio’s impact on the area, particularly on the playing surface.

Credits to Meralco-Manila and Kaya-Makati staff for photos and interview quotes