Loyola gained a firm grip on the Singapore Cup quarterfinal tie as they defeated Kanbawza FC 3-1 in the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
Goals from the Younghusband brothers and Mark Hartmann have given the Sparks a commanding lead going into the second leg this Sunday.
Loyola were helped on their way by the first half sending off of Hia Htwe and the second half sending off of substitute Kyaw Zayar Win.
Kanbawza FC are currently second in the Burmese top flight, known as the Myanmar National League, though they are only behind league leaders Yadanarbon FC on goal difference.
With no TV coverage football fans had to rely on the tweetcasts of several journalists, including Icko De Guzman, Rick Olivares and Cedelf Tupas, though the PF Football Scribe blog detailed the match events
Phil Younghusband opened the scoring in the 14th minute after he was played in by Jeong Byeong Yeol though the Burmese side threatened with Soe Min Oo heading over from a cross by Charles Obi.
Obi was the top scorer in the 2011 Myanmar National League season.
Kanbawza made an early substitution, bringing in the Myanmar U22 captain Kyaw Zayar Win, whose age was listed as 24 on the team sheet.
The fiasco has raised doubts about the Myanmar U22 side as some have suggested that they fielded as many as eight overage players during the U22 2013 Asian Cup Qualifying campaign.
The final action of the half saw Hia Htwe see red for hitting James Younghusband in the face as the two fought for the ball. This meant Loyola went into the break a goal and a man up and looked to come out in the second half to continue their dominance.
However Kanbawza fought back and almost equalized straight away before Anto Gonzales cleared Kyaw Zayar Win’s effort off the line from a corner.
Moments later Matt Hartmann came close to doubling Loyola’s lead as he hit the post from a free-kick.
But the Sparks weren’t to be denied and Phil Younghusband turned provider for Mark Hartmann who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net in the 63rd minute.
Two goals down, Kanbawza then went two men down as the overaged U22 Myanmar captain got his marching orders for a second bookable offense following a poor tackle on Park Min Ho.
Yet the Burmese side pushed forward to get back into the game and in the 75th minute they were rewarded as Soe Min Oo headed in to bring his side within reaching distance.
However the Sparks regained their two goal advantage soon after, easing much of the anxiety, as the Younghusband brothers again combined with older brother James this time providing the quality finish to put Loyola well and truly in the driving seat for the second leg this Sunday, 8th June.
Should the Sparks see out the tie on Sunday and qualify for the semifinals they will face the winner between Albirex Niigata Singapore, a Japanese side playing in the S-League, and reigning S-League champions Tampines Rovers later today, Friday 6th June.
Loyola are in amongst some of the best teams in South East Asia and a good showing in the Singapore Cup will go a long way to boosting the domestic football of the Philippines.
There is no TV schedule, but fans are hoping that future matches will be televised especially with it looking increasingly likely that Loyola will face the best Singapore has to offer, in Tampines Rovers, in the semifinals. — ELR, GMA News