WHAT difference a change in environment can make.
Atoning for its two disappointing showings in the United Football League, Loyola Meralco pounced on a young and undermanned Harimau Muda B side to score a 3-0 victory and clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of the Singapore Cup on Sunday night at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Phil Younghusband sparkled for the Sparks, registering a brace and assisting on Jang Jo Wong’s goal to power his team to the group stage victory at the expense of a Malaysian squad composed mostly of members of the country’s 19-under squad, that went a man down early.
The Sparks, whose title chances in the UFL have all but dimmed, are now a win away from replicating their semifinal stint in their maiden tournament campaign last year.
Younghusband opened the scoring 18 minutes into the game when the Filipino-British star converted a penalty strike that was awarded after he was fouled by Ashmawi, whose hard tackle earned him a red card.
Jang exposed the extra space on the pitch as he scored off a pass from Younghusband to double the lead in the 40th minute.
Younghusband completed his two-goal effort nine minutes before the second-half stoppage time by firing on an empty goal off a feed from Jake Morallo.