STALLION-Sta. Lucia entered with a different look, but came out with the same dominating performance led by Rufo Sanchez on Thursday night at the Emperador Stadium.
Temporarily leaving the 3-6-1 for a 4-5-1 formation owing to the injury to defender Jeremy Hohn, the reigning United Football League Cup champions stomped past Philippine Air Force, 7-2, to remain unbeaten in five games.
Sanchez, the sensational Spanish striker, thrived in the new formation as he laid claim to four goals — more than half of the Stallions’ total, the most by a team so far this season.
Lee Joo Young also shone with a brace, while Balut Doctora added one goal as the Stallions grabbed solo second spot with 15 points and a goal difference of +13.
“(4-5-1 formation) is something we played a lot last year so it’s nothing new to us,” Stallions coach Ernie Nierras said. “I still want to be able to do the 3-6-1 formation because for me, that’s the stronger formation.”
“That’s what we want to be able to do, to play with different systems, depends on who the opponent is,” added Nierras, also the Philippine women’s team mentor.
Sanchez started the scoring spree with a brace in a span of nine minutes starting the 11th before the Korean Lee made it a commanding lead with his own strike nine minutes later.
Ian Araneta provided a measure of respect for the Airmen by scoring his breakthrough goal of the season via penalty kick in the 36th.
The Stallions, though, continued to pounce on their opponents as Lee struck anew a minute before first-half stoppage time.
Sanchez’s two more goals in the 56th and 64th were sandwiched by a goal from skipper Doctora, who joined the scoring fray in the 60th minute.
Araneta converted an inconsequential looping goal to complete a brace in the 71st minute for the Airmen, who remained winless in four games.
“The guy can hold the ball like crazy. His work rate is so high,” Nierras said of Sanchez. “That’s (scoring threat) one of the things we were missing last year and now we have it.”
“It’s never easy (scoring goals). Very hard, very strong, and also there’s the goalkeeper, you have to have good luck,” Sanchez said through compatriot and one of the Stallions’ defensive stalwarts, Joaco Cañas.
“I just try to do my job, scoring as many goals as possible so with the help of my teammates who give me passes, it’s the work of everybody,” the Spanish sensation added.