LOYOLA Meralco underscored its status as the team to beat in the United Football League as it outclassed a disjointed Global FC side 4-0 on Tuesday night to start its double championship bid in the UFL at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Oozing confidence following their breakthrough title run in the Cup just two months ago, the Sparks continued to live up to lofty expectations as they dealt a fellow powerhouse squad a clinical dismantling en route to the shutout victory.
Phil Younghusband, Lee Joo Young, Freddie Gonzalez, and Matthew Hartmann all found the back of net for the Sparks, who gained three points and the early lead on goal difference in the 10-team standings.
“If we strive to play good football, the results will come,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said.
True enough, the Sparks proved true to their word as they pounced on a high-pressing Global side by countering with their speed epitomized by Lee, who broke the Global defense with a long-range strike just seven minutes into the game.
“To be honest, we weren’t sure how they would play,” Santos admitted. “They have some key acquisitions in vital positions and have a new coach.”
“(But) they came out strong pressing and it fit right in to the type of players we have on the pitch,” the former national booter added.
Younghusband doubled the lead with a free-kick conversion two minutes before stoppage time, and Gonzalez, who turned 36 last Friday, showed youthful zest early in the second half when he headed home a corner kick from the left side.
Hartmann added to Global’s misery with a free-kick made two minutes into second-half stoppage time in a play that developed after Jeff Christiaens collided with James Younghusband, who suffered an injury.
It was one the worst beatings for Global, whose new coach Leigh Manson disappointed in his debut.
“It was not the debut we wanted,” said the Scottish mentor, who replaced compatriot Brian Reid. “The difference between the teams was we certainly didn’t take the opportunities we created. Loyola did a great job in making theirs.”
When the post-game press conference ended, reporters shook Manson’s hand and wished him good luck.
“I might need it,” he replied.