STALLION-Sta. Lucia hardly felt the absence of top scorer Rufo Sanchez in overpowering Philippine Air Force, 6-0, on Thursday night that firmed up for the front-running squad its place in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig.
Substitute Nathan Alquiros and Matthias Bonhevi each registered a brace while two others also chipped in as they filled the void left by the Spanish sensation Sanchez, who was suspended for reaching the yellow card booking limit in their last game.
The reigning UFL Cup champions, who now have 16 goal scorers this season, improved to 39 points, five points ahead of defending champion Global.
The Airmen stayed in ninth place with six points, only two points ahead of Army and still in danger of relegation.
Won Hyung Lee struck the opening goal for the Stallions, scoring on a looping long-range goal that was miscalculated by Air Force goalkeeper Kenneth Dolloso just two minutes into the game.
It was in the second half, though, where the Stallions inflicted the most damage.
Bonhevi struck two minutes into the second half, before Alquiros found the goal four minutes later.
Hector Zaghi, who came in with Alquiros at the start of the second half, then scored on an empty goal four minutes later.
Alquiros and Bonhevi completed their respective braces and the rout by finding the back of the net in the 70th and 86th minutes.
Stallion coach Ernie Nierras noted his team’s balanced scoring effort, but made special mention of Alquiros, the 20-year-old De la Salle left winger who has made a solid impression since suiting up late in the first half of the season after his UAAP duty ended.
“Confidence ng batang yan has been high ever since, so we’re just letting him loose,” Nierras said of Alquiros, who has overshadowed his fellow UAAP rivals who are in the UFL in Green Archers United’s Jon Melliza and Pachanga’s Jinggoy Valmayor.
“Magkakaroon ka talaga ng maraming chances sa system na ‘to,” said the 20-year-old left-winger Alquiros, who has raised his goal total to six in just six games, five more than what he scored all season in the UAAP.