Phil Younghusband returns to solid form after knee injury

Defending champion Ceres La Salle and Loyola Meralco seized second and third spots, respectively, following lopsided victories over former second division sides Wednesday in the United Football League at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Sustaining its climb back to the top after a poor start to the season, Ceres drew another hat trick from Spanish striker Adrian Gallardo to whip undermanned Forza, 10-0, while the Sparks overwhelmed Agila, 11-0.

Both Ceres and Loyola increased their tally to 12 points this season with the latter ahead on goal difference.

(Rizal Memorial Stadium)
1:45 p.m. – Loyola Meralco vs Forza
4 p.m. – Ceres La Salle vs JP Voltes

National team skipper Phil Younghusband scored for the first time since returning from a knee injury, producing a hat trick in the first half as the Sparks picked up their fourth win in five outings.

Akira Miyayama also drilled in three goals, while James Younghusband increased his tally to seven goals this season with a brace for the Sparks, who got two goals from Jinggoy Valmayor and another from Daniel Gadia.

The goalfest started in the 38th minute when Phil Younghusband struck from close range off a cross from Spanish teammate Alvaro Castiella.

Phil doubled his tally two minutes later from the penalty spot after James was fouled inside the area, before the Sparks striker completed his hat trick, firing into an empty net at the stroke of halftime.

Forza showed up with only 10 players, but it took awhile for Ceres to find the breakthrough.

The first goal came in the 23rd minute when Manny Ott ghosted in behind the defense to latch unto Stephan Schrock’s ball, before firing a thunderous shot past the Forza keeper.

Gallardo got the first of his three goals in the 37th minute, unleashing a right-footed effort into the top corner after a fine dummy from Carlie de Murga.

Ceres got six other players on the scoresheet with Schrock, De Murga, Jeffrey Christiaens, Nate Burkey, Patrick Reichelt and Bienvenido Maranon also finding the back of the net.