Three more teams booked their seats in the knockout rounds of the UFL Cup in the past couple of days, none more emphatic than the Loyola Meralco Sparks.
The UFL Div I side pounded 33 goals past cellar-dwellers Blue Guards in Group E action on Wednesday night, setting what could be competition records in the process for the club and league.
Nine Loyola players scored the goals, led by Philippine International Phil Younghusband's eight goals. Chad Gould added seven, while James Younghusband and Matthew Hartmann each netted five. New acquisition Joo Young Lee secured a hat trick, while Jake Morallo added a brace. The remaining goals came from Boyet Canedo, Simon Greatwich and Samuel Bonney, who opened the scoring in the first minute.
Joining them on top of Group E with nine points, albeit with a much smaller goal difference, is Green Archers United. They also secured a berth in the Round of 16 with a 5-0 victory over Navy.
Tating Pasilan returned from national team duty in the AFF Futsal Championships to score twice in the first half, helping Green Archers set up a 3-0 lead. Reynald Villareal had opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Jesse Martindale and Robert Lopez Mendy added goals to near the end of the match for the final score.
Loyola and GAU will close out Group E play when they face each other on November 7.
On Tuesday, Ceres-La Salle earned their seat in the next round, as they finished on top of Group A with a 2-1 victory over Pachanga Diliman.
Jin Ho Kim and Jalsor Soriano scored their goals for the PFF-SMART Club champions in the first half to set a 2-0 lead at the break. Kim poked the ball in after keeper Steve Yambou could not control the ball off a corner, while Soriano's goal came from a lob that he fired from just outside the center circle. Yambou had been inserted into the game due to the unavailability of their regular starter Kim Versales, who also serves as the goalkeeping coach of National University, which particpated in the recently-held Unigames at Bacolod City.
Ariel Zerrudo, Jr. pulled one back for Pachanga just before halftime, but the Div I side could not find an equalizer in the second half. In spite of the defeat, they already made the Round of 16 before the match.
The other game saw Army pull out a 3-3 draw against Laos FC, coming back from being down 3-0 after 23 minutes to secure a point. Mohammad Ghasemi and Patrick Franksson punished Army for its defending, with Ghasemi heading the first two goals and Franksson notching the third.
The second half was another story, as the Armed Forces side answered with three goals in a 20-minute span. Former Philippine international Boogie Margarse opened Army's scoring account with a penalty in the 50th minute, then Jeoffrey Lobaton rebounded one in a couple of minutes later. Romano Vestal volleyed in the equalizer in the 69th minute.
Army would need Victoriano Troyo to salvage the situation, saving a penalty kick off Ghasemi with 12 minutes remaining in the second half. Army would remain in fourth place, but thanks to their upset win over Ceres, they have an inside track on the path to the knockout rounds with three huge points.
UFL Cup action will take a break for the All-Saints Day holiday, but it will resume on November 5.