IN what was the calm before the storm, Loyola Meralco breezed past Philippine Army, 5-0, on a rainy Thursday night at the University of Makati pitch to advance to the semifinals of the United Football League Cup.
Mark Hartmann, Phil Younghusband, and Byeong Yeol Jeong delivered the goals for the Sparks, who arranged a knockout date with powerhouse Global in an explosive Final Four duel.
“It was a good win for us, but now we face Global, which has a deep bench,” said Younghusband, wary of Global’s powerful roster - half of which is made up of national team members.
“Now the test begins,” added Hartmann, who registered a hat-trick.
Hartmann started and ended Loyola’s salvo as he drew first blood just six minutes into the match, before adding two goals within the last five minutes.
He also assisted on one goal, a corner pass that led to a Jeong header in the 32nd minute.
Younghusband then joined the scoring fray in the 72nd minute after converting an assist from older brother James.
The younger Younghusband said beating Global is more difficult considering the practice time members of both teams devote to the Azkals, who are preparing for their friendly against Singapore later this month in Cebu.
“It’s not going to be easy with our schedule.”
In the second game, Stallion edged General Trias International, 5-4, in an enthralling penalty shootout to also clinch a spot in the semifinals.
With both clubs failing to register in the scoring column after 120 minutes of play, the game went into a penalty shootout of five shots per squad to determine the outcome.
Yeul Nam hit the winning shot.
Both squads converted their first four goals, before General Trias’ Hoan Do over-placed his shot and Stallion’s Spanish striker Rufo Sanchez was denied by the Korean goalkeeper
In the nightcap, Green Archers United upended Pachanga, 4-3, over at the Nomads Sports Club in another penalty shootout to advance to the Round of Four.
It was another down-the-wire finish as both teams were knotted, 1-1, after regulation and extra time anew. Jes Melliza scored six minutes into the match for the Archers, while Ariel Zerrudo scored on a free kick for Pachanga.
In the shootout, Freddy Gonzalez and Jason Cunliffe either was denied by Archers' keeper Patrick Deyto or missed his shot as Pachanga only converted three goals.
The Archers, on the other hand, only had one miss, with Ayi Nii Aryee scoring the clincher