AS he went coast to coast to score the sublime goal that gave Loyola Meralco the lead for good, Lee Joo Young let his arms open and screamed as he expressed his delight in being one of the reasons of Stallion’s defeat.
The former Stallion standout emerged a villain this time as he helped the Sparks, his new club, to a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night that extended their winning streak in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium.
Lee is one of four new Sparks who were part of the Stallions’ core in their title run last season.
Phil Younghusband came up with a brace as Loyola remained unbeaten in five games to solidify its hold of the top spot.
The Sparks also kept the defending champion Stallions within the bottom-half of the field at seventh place with a second loss in five games.
“I didn’t expect the goal, but I just tried to play my best. I really wanted to beat them,” said the Korean winger, who dyed his hair blond especially for the matchup.
As expected, the match ran high with emotions as Lee, fellow Koreans Bo Bae Park and Lee Won Hyung, and Spanish center-back Joaco Cañas faced their former squad for the first time.
“It was fun. We’re proud they performed well. But I was hoping they didn’t perform that well,” Stallion coach Ernie Nierras said.
Younghusband gave the Sparks the early lead 31 minutes into the game, but equally motivated, Nierras and the Stallions gave the title-contending Sparks a run for their money as they stayed within striking distance with an equalizing penalty goal by Hamed Hadjimehdi in the 61st minute.
The stage was set for the heroics of Lee, who flashed some individual brilliance by dispossessing a Stallion player, then going on a virtual one-man counterattack, before firing a left-footed missile from the middle that found the right corner of the net.
Younghusband put the outcome beyond doubt in the 86th minute when he flicked in a left-footed shot to an empty net in a play he made look easy.
“Good character for the guys to get back in the second half, but generally among the games we played so far, I think this was a dip in our performance,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said.
“Maybe there was some extra thoughts because we have some players from Stallion and that’s still the reigning League champions we played,” he added.