Phil Younghusband powered FC Meralco Manila past a gritty Ilocos United FC, 1-0, to regain the top spot in the Philippines Football League (PFL) on Saturday at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.
Younghusband converted a penalty kick early in the second half as the Sparks sealed their sixth win in eight games and stole back the No. 1 position from JPV Marikina FC with 20 points.
Meralco Manila followed up its narrow 2-1 win over Ilocos United in their first encounter last May 13 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
Aris Caslib’s men also snapped a two-game draw results as they remained unscathed eight weeks into the inaugural season.
Following a first half deadlock, the capital-based booters flaunted their offensive arsenal which caused an Ilocos defender to commit a hand ball inside the box.
Despite the heavy downpour, Azkals captain Younghusband made no mistake from the penalty spot, easily beating Ghanaian goalkeeper Baba Sampana in the 54th minute.
Meralco goalie Junjun Badelic, who replaced Under-22 national team standout Ace Villanueva, came up with a crucial save down the stretch as he parried Josh Reyes’ attempt six minutes before time.
Meanwhile, Ceres Negros FC ran over Stallion Laguna FC once again with a 5-2 rout at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
Former Azkals stalwart Stephan Shrock and four other Yellow Busmen scored to overtake Global Cebu FC on No. 3 with a four-goal advantage in goal difference.
Ruben Doctora and substitute Terrence Linatoc netted the consolation goals for Stallion Laguna, which stayed on No. 7 with three points.
The Negrenses mauled the booters from Laguna, 5-1, in their first meeting last Wednesday at the same pitch.