A SOW-STARTING Loyola Meralco got back on the winning track by hacking out a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over pesky Pachanga-PLDT Home Fibr in the United Football League on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Still reeling from the shock 3-3 draw against Division 1 newcomer Socceroo on Saturday, the Sparks went on the back foot anew early, before relying on sheer talent to register their sixth victory in seven games that solidified their hold of the top spot.
Joaco Cañas and Freddy Gonzalez emerged the goalscorers for Loyola, which kept Pachanga in seventh place with six points after their fourth loss in six games.
“We’re happy to get the result, but I feel like we could’ve scored some more goals,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said. “We were a little bit tentative. You can see how mental the game of football is.”
In a rematch of the UFL Cup final last December, Pachanga established an early lead courtesy of Nate Burkey eight minutes into the game, before Cañas equalized in the 25th with a volley off a Boyet Cañedo corner.
Four minutes later, Gonzalez, who returned from an absence of few games due to an injury, scored the winner for the Sparks with a long-range strike.
Gonzalez came off in the second half for James Younghusband, who also saw action for the first time in four games since spraining his ankle.
Unlike Loyola, Pachanga missed three vital pieces in suspended skipper Reza Amirkhizan and injured teammates in striker Ariel Zerrudo and goalkeeper Steve Yambou, forcing the squad to utilize a Filipino-laden squad.
“It was a good showing for our local players. At least we can see that we can match up against the foreigners of the other team,” Pachanga assistant coach Alvin Ocampo said.
The match was marred by a questionable non-call in a second-half play that saw Phil Younghusband, on an open lane, get his jersey pulled and get tackled by Deo Segunial. The incident, according to Santos, should have merited the Pachanga defender a straight red card.