MANILA, Philippines - Team Socceroo held unbeaten Loyola Meralco Sparks to a pulsating 3-3 draw to post one of the major reversals in the First Division of the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium Friday night.
Socceroo actually appeared headed for a king-sized upset when it stormed to a 3-1 lead in the second half but Fil-Brit Phil Younghusband and Joaco Canas came through with a goal each to salvage the draw for Loyola.
Seung Yeon Min pounced on Loyola goalie Ref Cuaresma’s errant pass out of his own box and converted it into a goal on the fifth minute, giving Socceroo a 1-0 lead.
Loyola’s Robert Canedo knocked in the equalizer 20 minutes later.
Lee Jeong Woo then cashed in on Loyola’s failure to clear the lines and blasted a goal early in the second half before making it a brace after smashing through Cuaresma’s defense as Socceroo posted a 3-1 lead two minutes later.
But Younghusband unleashed a thunderous strike three minutes after he came in while Canas blasted away a rocket late in regulation to save the Sparks from absorbing their first defeat.
With the draw, Loyola remained on top with 16 points, including five straight victories.
Socceroo, for its part, stayed at eighth with just five points.
“I told them, ‘if you want respect in the First Division, we need to show them that we can play at their level,’” said Socceroo coach Franklin Cacacho.
“It’s a bittersweet draw because we could’ve won it,” Socceroo assistant coach Rodrigo Davalos said.
In the only other top division match, reigning league champion Stallion FC walloped Army-General Trias International, 3-0, to jump from No. 7 to No. 4 with eight points, behind Loyola, Global FC (12 points) and Kaya FC (10 points).
In Division Two matches, Ceres-La Salle Bacolod smashed Dolphins United, 9-2, and Manila All-Japan crushed Cimarron, 6-0.