Davao-bound Younghusbands lead Meralco to victory one last time

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 01, 2017 10:48 AM
Younghusbands lead Meralco to victory one last time
Davao Aguilas-bound brothers Phil and James Younghusband lead FC Meralco Manila to a victory for one last time, against their new club. (Photo courtesy of FC Meralco Manila on Facebook)

Phil and James Younghusband said goodbye to FC Meralco Manila in a fitting manner: with a 3-2 victory over the Davao Aguilas on Saturday in the Davao Del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum.

Hours before kickoff the brothers' transfer to Davao was announced but that didn't stop Phil and James from doing right by their soon-to-be ex-employee at the expense of their new one. Phil assisted in two goals and James scored another. But centerback Milan Nikolic earned Man of the Match honors with two goals off headers.

The win brings Manila back on pole position in the PFL table with 27 points, one more than Kaya who tangle with Stallion Laguna on Sunday.

Meralco were without central defender Joaco Cañas, suspended on yellow cards. Neil Dorimon earned his first start of the season in his place.

Early in the match goalie Ace Villanueva was called into action, palming away a strike from new Davao signing Jason De jong.

Simon Greatwich and Phil Younghusband also shot wide but it was Davao who struck first, capitalizing on a defensive error to set up an opener from Aussie striker Harrison Sawyer in the 33rd.

Four minutes before the half Meralco leveled when Nikolic nodded in a Phil Younghusband corner.

However it only took seconds for the Aguilas to restore the lead when another new addition, Matt Hartmann, snuck in a low shot from an acute angle.

Three minutes into the second half Phil was denied off a free kick by a great save by the Davao keeper Marko Trkulja. His elder brother nearly connected seven minutes later.

But Manila drew level in the 64th when Phil beat the defense on the right flank and then centered to James, who slipped it past the keeper for 2-2.

Just two minutes later another header from Nikolic, off a Curt Dizon cross, gave the Sparks the lead for good.

Davao tried to shake things up with the late entry of Enzo Cheng but Meralco held on for the win, their first in three games.

"Daniel Gadia came in and pushed Phil and James upfield. That was our main adjustment in the second half," said Meralco coach Aris Caslib.

"It was an emotional match. Thanks to the great crowd and thanks to Phil and James for all they have done for the club," said Nikolic.

"You all are like brothers to me," said James Younghusband to the team after the game.

The Sparks next play Global on Wednesday and Kaya on Saturday.

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