MANILA, Philippines – Loyola Meralco Sparks bounced back from its painful defeat to Global FC the last time out by venting its ire on a hapless Pasargad, 5-0, to cling to the solo lead in the First Division of the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City.
Azkals standout Phil Younghusband unloaded a brace while Freddy Gonzales, Matt Hartmann and Jake Morallo contributed a goal apiece to power the Sparks to another win that kept their place at the helm with 29 points.
Loyola thus restored its four-point advantage over closest pursuer Global FC, which dealt the former its first defeat of the season with a pulsating 3-2 victory last Saturday in a match of teams that could end up with League championship.
"I would say the second half we were much better. In the first half we created chances and didn't finish, which could've hurt us," said Loyola coach Vince Santos.
In the other match, Green Archers United-Globe leaned on a match-clinching goal from Australian midfielder Jesse Martindale to eke out a nerve-wracking 3-2 triumph over a powerhouse Kaya FC side.
With the match knotted at two apiece, Martindale uncorked a magnificent left-foot strike that zoomed straight to the left corner goal in a goal considered as one of the most thrilling scored in the season thus far.
"I think this is one of the best games we've had. We deserved to win this game," said Archers mentor Rodolfo Alicante.
"This is probably our break from four consecutive heartbreaking matches," he added referring to a draw and three setbacks they should have won.
GAU joined Pachanga Diliman FC at joint sixth with 10 points while leaving Kaya, a club bankrolled by Kaya FC, stranded at No. 3 with 20 points, five behind No. 2 Global FC and nine off the league-leading Loyola.
Floriano Pasilan broke the ice early when he beat Kaya goalie Nick O'Donnel to a clever ball in behind Kaya defense, giving GAU the early lead just seven minutes into the match.
Substitute Janrick Soriano scored after GAU's backline defense succumbed to tremendous pressure put up by Kaya to level the score just 10 minutes after the start of the second half.
Rightback Reynald Villareal then unleashed a brilliant free kick from 25 meters that caromed around the wall and dipped just in time to sneak past the crossbar and O'Donnel to give GAU back the lead, 2-1.
Anton del Rosario, back in the Azkals fold, then responded with a free kick of his own to forge another deadlock that turned out temporary as Martindale answered back to give GAU the shocking win.