LOYOLA Meralco outplayed Global FC in a battle of United Football League giants, scoring a 2-0 shutout on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill to advance to the semifinals of the UFL Cup.
The Sparks leaned on their usual offensive brilliance and vastly-improved defense to emerge victorious and move a step closer to the title.
"It's a big win," said star striker Phil Younghusband, who provided one of the goals.
"We didn't get to play the normal football we'd like to play, but we were able to grind out the win," Sparks coach Vince Santos said of the highly physical affair. "That's most important."
Next up for the Sparks is Green Archers United, which survived Ceres-La Salle, 2-1, earlier.
Held scoreless in the first half, the Sparks unlocked the Global defense three minutes after intermission when Younghusband scored off a Chad Gould cross from the right side.
Younghusband, who actually came off the bench midway through the first half, was then the facilitator in the Sparks' second goal, setting up Matthew Hartmann who caught a perfectly timed pass before striking a long-range bullet that stunned Global keeper Roland Sadia in the 75th minute.
Izzo El-Habib and Aaron Altiche had chances to close the gap, but failed to get through Loyola netminder Baba Sampana.
"I can say our play in the second half was nowhere near how greatly we played in the first half, Global coach Brian Reid said. "I was disappointed with that."