Loyola Meralco Sparks (PHI) 2 (Mark Hartmann 62’, Park Minho 94’)
Geylang United 1 (Michael King 43’)
Loyola Meralco Sparks from the Philippines became the first foreign side after Phnom Penh Crown (Cambodia) and Brunei DPMM to advance to the quarter-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup after a 2-1 extra-time win over Geylang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
Matthew Hartmann, the elder of the Hartmann brothers, was excluded from the side just before kickoff and it was understood that he was serving a domestic ban back in Philippines. Sparks’ coach Vincent Santos explained: “We were very surprised that to receive the news that he (Hartmann) was not allowed to play as the ban applied only to domestic competitions (the United Football League in Philippines).”
The Eagles started well and had the first shot of the game after just one minute. Michael King played a quick one-two with Rizawan Abdullah but his low shot was parried by Sparks’ goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma. On the other end, Philip Younghusband then sent his header narrowly wide after outjumping a Geylang defender to Mark Hartmann’s deep cross from the right.
The Geylang backline were fortunate not to have gone a goal down on 12 minutes after a mix-up between Rhema Obed and Mubarak Ahamad. To the rescue for Geylang was captain Yazid Yasin, as he dived down low to keep out Philip Younghusband’s weak effort.
In arguably the best chance of the first half, King’s deflected free kick in the 25th minute came off the foot of the post before the rebound shaved the top of Jalal’s head after a mistimed jump by the winger. Mun Seung Man then headed wide from Jalal’s promising left-wing cross three minutes later.
Yazid was called into action twice in the space of four minutes when he first got down to gather Jake Morallo’s header before producing a stupendous save from Hartmann’s powerful long-range drive.
The breakthrough arrived two minutes before the break after Sparks’ Jeong Byeongyeol allowed a long ball to bounce. It caused a defensive mix-up as the rebound fell to King on the edge of the six yard box and the midfielder slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.
Rhema Obed then nodded a header wide from Michael King’s inswinging free kick in the 56th minute before Philip Younghusband sliced his volley wide on the other end a minute later.
Sparks finally equalized on 62 minutes, a good finish that was. A missed header by Mubarak Ahamad from James Younghusband’s cross fell perfectly onto Mark Hartmann’s chest. The forward then fired an unstoppable finish past Yazid Yasin, who could do nothing about it.
The final clear chance of regulation time came in the 75th minute after Michael King had played a quick one-two with Mun Seung Man but his chipped shot beat goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma and not the bar.
At the end of regulation time, both teams still could not be separated and the game went on to extra time.
Sparks were quick off the blocks in extra time and went ahead after four minutes into the first period of extra time with a deflected goal. It was unfortunate for the Eagles as goalscorer Park Minho’s shot took a wicked deflection off Ishak Zainol before looping over the wrong-footed Yazid.
But Geylang almost hit back immediately through substitute Amy Recha. Unfortunately for the youngster, he saw his superb volley on the edge of the area tipped away by Ref Cuaresma for a corner.
Rhema Obed then glanced Michael King’s corner wide on 108 minutes before the same man fired wide from some way out. Korean Mun Seung Man could have equalized right at the death but fired into the side-netting as time eventually ran out for the Eagles.
“I think we deserved it (the win). We had some chances in the first half, so I don’t think it was a lucky win,” a delighted Vincent Santos said after the game.
On his side’s chances, Santos said: “We’ll put this competition (the Singapore Cup) as one of our priorities but we’ll take it one game at a time.”
After seeing his side lose out by a goal, Geylang coach V Kanan said: “I’m proud of my boys. They played really hard for the 120 minutes and most of them gave their 120% or even 150% and I cannot fault anybody.”
“They (Loyola Meralco Sparks) did create chances but did not really threaten much,” he remarked.
“I thought we were the better team (tonight) but a lapse in concentration cost us and they scored. I think the equalizer was the turning point of the game.”
Loyola Meralco Sparks will now face the winners of the KBZ-Woodlands match in the quarter-finals of the Singapore Cup.
Loyola Meralco Sparks: Ref Cuaresma (GK); Roxy Dorlas (Patrick Ozaeta 74’), Park Minho, Alexandro Elnar; Andres Gonzales, James Younghusband (C), Simon Greatwich (Davide Cortina 62’), Jake Morallo (Amani Aguinaldo 80’); Philip Younghusband, Mark Hartmann, Jeong Byeongyeol Unused subs: Rolando Cabaniero, Gabriel Borja
Geylang United: Yazid Yasin (GK, C); Syed Fadhil, Mubarak Ahamad; Ishak Zainol (Khairulnizam Jumahat 106’), Jalal, Rhema Obed, Michael King, Ang Zhiwei (Shah Hirul 64’), Jozef Kaplan, Mun Seung Man, Rizawan Abdullah (Amy Recha 72’) Unused subs: Ridhuan Barudin, Hassan Aziz, Faizal Samad, Basil Teo
Yellow card(s): Jeong Byeongyeol, Davide Cortina, Simon Greatwich (Loyola Meralco Sparks); Ishak Zainol, Jalal (Geylang United)
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