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Second half surge powers Loyola Meralco Sparks to first win

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Defending United Football League (UFL) Cup champions Loyola Meralco Sparks FC delivered a barrage of goals when it mattered, as they pulverized Mendiola FC 1991, 7-0, to take their initial victory of this year’s Cup season, Saturday, May 16 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

As expected, the Division I mainstays started well as they had several chances early in the match. The attack force of the Sparks managed to get the ball into the attacking third, but the defense of Mendiola was there to snuff the shots. At the 12th minute, Loyola midfielder James Younghusband missed on a chance at the opening goal when he shot the ball over the bar. Five minutes from that opportunity, Younghusband found Graham Caygill in the middle and sent a pass to the striker from the right flank, which Caygill slotted into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal. The white shirts had more than enough opportunities for they tried to find holes in Mendiola’s defense, which was at Loyola’s side of the pitch for most of the period, only to have their shots miss their targets. The half ended with the reigning champions with an unflattering lead, 1-0.

The same could not be said for the second period. Loyola Meralco Sparks showed their veteran smarts and creativity on offense. Just four minutes from the restart, Mendiola keeper blocked a rebounded attempt by Loyola’s Jake Morallo for a corner. In the ensuing play, Loyola’s Napoleon Jusguera Bustillo took the corner kick which Younghusband headed in for his team’s second goal. The Division I squad continued to take advantage of what the opposing defense allowed as they kept on pressuring for more goals. As if the scoreline is not enough, Phil Younghusband entered the game in the 61st minute, adding firepower on the Sparks offense. P. Younghusband made immediate impact as he connected with Anthony Putrus-Schnell, however, the shot was wide.

Floodgates opened at the 68th minute when Caygill fired his second of the match to pad the lead to 3-0. Anton Del Rosario sent a cross from the left wing and into the box, which the burly forward tapped to the crossbar and into the goal. Young Azkals mainstay Curt Dizon also opened his account in this match and scored his first two goals in a Loyola uniform at the 74th and 81st minutes. For the first goal, Putrus-Schnell set up Dizon outside the box and the winger put it in. Seven minutes from that goal, Dizon tapped a loose ball from Joaquin Cañas into the back of the net for his second. Putrus-Schnell registered a goal of his own in the 78th minute when he guided the ball into the goal off an assist by Morallo. At injury time, Del Rosario fired a shot from near the centerline and went into the onion bag to deliver the exclamation point on this emphatic win for Loyola Meralco Sparks, 7-0.

Coach Simon McMenemy of Loyola Meralco Sparks shared that they emphasized possession for this match. The former national team coach cited, “I think based from the last game against Stallion, we looked for improvement. So it’s good now that we [connected] on keeping the ball in possession.”

Loyola Meralco Sparks look to follow up on this victory against group leaders JP Voltes FC on May 19, Tuesday, while Mendiola tries to take their first win against erstwhile struggling UST FC in the curtain raiser on the same day.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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