Facing a must win situation, Loyola Meralco Sparks FC dispatched nine-men Kanbawza FC 3-1 in the first leg of the RHB Singapore Cup quarterfinal at Jalan Besar Stadium Thursday night.
The win came after the Sparks lost their momentum in their final matches in the United Football League, drawing twice and losing once.
Phil Younghusband opened the scoring in the 15th minute after Byeong Yeol Jeong evaded the defense and fed the ball to Phil for the goal and set the momentum for the Sparks.
Kanbawza tried to reply with an equalizer, but to no avail, and were down to ten men before half time after Hla Aye Htwe was given a direct red card for a foul on James Younghusband.
Come the second half, Kanbawza had a few chances but only gone begging as the referee delayed the match due to the Kanbawza fans showed their frustration by throwing objects on the pitch.
That did not matter for Loyola Meralco as Mark Hartmann scored the second goal in the 65th minute after he was found by Phil inside the penalty area.
It turned from bad to worse as Kanbawza got another player sent off in Kyaw Zayar Win for a second bookable offense in the 69th minute.
Although left with nine men on the pitch, Kanbawza's Soe Min Oo scored in the 75th minute for the consolation.
James then completed the rout deep into stoppage time after combining with brother Phil for Loyola Meralco's third goal of the match.
The win gives Loyola Meralco the advantage heading into the second leg on Sunday and a pssible chance to advance to the semifinals of the RHB Singapore Cup.