LOYOLA Meralco pressed its offensive might against Mendiola, scoring a 12-0 shutout on Tuesday night to clinch a quarterfinal berth in the United Football League Cup at the University of Makati pitch.
Phil Younghusband fired five goals, Koreans Byeong Yeol Jeong and Jo Won Jang each registered a brace, while Mark Hartmann, Chad Gould, and Peter Fadrilagan all found the back of the net as the Sparks forged a knockout meeting with Group D leader Philippine Army on Thursday, also at Umak.
After a shock loss to Pachanga early in the Cup put their playoff hopes in jeopardy, the Sparks now sit atop Group C with three wins and one loss for a total of nine points, including 19 points on goal difference.
“It’s been a lot tougher in our group this year compared to last, but I’m happy and hopefully we’ll continue this and come away with flying colors,” said right winger James Younghusband, who facilitated the Sparks’ offense with aplomb.
Their offense has been clicking on all cylinders, but it’s their defense that has not been tested against top-flight clubs in the Cup. And the Sparks hope to show the marked improvement especially in the tougher grind ahead.
“I think it’s something we’ve been working on this year… and give us more time, we’ll be able to show how better defensively we are,” Younghusband said.
Mendiola, which ended the eliminations at the cellar without a win against one draw and three losses, had a handful of scoring chances but just could not find its marks.
Pachanga likewise advanced to the knockout stage as it edged out Laos, 3-2, but not after enduring anxious moments in the thrilling match that capped the night.
Trailing by a seemingly insurmountable two-point margin, Laos suddenly came back to life in the second half as it scored two consecutive goals to the delight of the Nomads booters, led by skipper Phil Connoly, in attendance.
Nomads, the erstwhile leader in Group C, rooted for the also-ran Laos to at least score a draw for them to make the round of 8.
But the celebration turned out to be short-lived after Yves Ashime scored a third goal for Pachanga in the 81st minute to regain for the reigning Division 2 titlist the lead, and eventually the all-important win.
Pachanga, which finished the eliminations with nine points, now faces Green Archers United in the quarterfinals.