LOYOLA Meralco bucked a shaky start to turn back a PSG side still reeling from the abrupt departure of its starting goalkeeper, 4-2, on Thursday night and regain second place in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig.
Save for giving up a late goal, the Sparks dominated the second half where they broke the game wide open after staring at a deadlock in the first 45 minutes of play.
Phil Younghusband registered a brace in the second half, while Byeong Yeol Jeong and Matthew Hartmann added a goal each for the Sparks, who moved past defending champion Global and remained unbeaten in four games in the second round.
Facing an unconventional squad that also participates in futsal tournaments, the Sparks started slow and couldn’t pull away after the Korean Jeong struck 13 minutes into the game as Emmanuel Mbata, PSG’s top scorer, tied the game eight minutes later.
But after regrouping at halftime, the Sparks regained their bearings and showed why they are one of the league’s title contenders.
Younghusband had a hand in the Sparks’ three second-half goals, striking two minutes after the restart, assisting on Hartmann’s goal in the 60th minute, before finally converting a penalty kick in the 80th minute.
“I think we just got a little bit off with the positional play of Pasargad,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said. “They’re not the usual team that plays a rigid system, so their movements, they have to be understood.”
“We made some adjustments in midfield, understanding tactical positioning for defense and I think we were able to do the adjustments properly.”
Santos, though, rued his team’s defensive lapse two minutes into stoppage time when Younousse Yaogo scored for PSG to trim the deficit.
“That’s not proper. You concede a goal in the last minute of regulation even though it’s a won game. We should keep the concentration up until the last whistle. We can’t afford to do that with the bigger teams.”
PSG, which was orphaned by ‘keeper Reza Ataei who left the squad without permission after receiving an offer to play for a club in his native Iran, suffered its fourth straight loss and stayed in seventh place with 11 points, only ahead of Green Archers United on goal difference.