The University of the East (UE) escaped a tester against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and in the process surpassing their Season 81 win total as the Red Warriors bested the Growling Tigers, 2-1, to end their UAAP men’s football first round campaign on a high note Thursday at the University of the Philippines (UP) Football Stadium.
Midfielder Eldrin Madrid scored the winning goal in the 60th minute off an assist by forward Jerome Abarca.
It was Madrid’s third goal of the tournament.
UST had an early lead as Daniel Nartey eluded Crimson Inguito off a 1v1 for the opening goal in the 22nd minute.
A handball inside UE’s penalty broke the Tigers’ momentum, leading to a penalty kick conversion by defender Paolo Alovera in the 43rd minute.
“Since wala pa kaming talo, sana ma-hold namin hanggang matapos yung second round. Very crucial na kasi siya. For sure, yung ibang teams na maghahabol, magse-step-up,” said UE head coach Fitch Arboleda.
Despite having no clean sheet, the Red Warriors end the first round leading the pack with three wins and three draws, being the only undefeated team in the tournament.
UST, on the other hand, absorbed its third loss in five games to drop to sixth place with a win and a draw.
They have a chance to bounce back against the winless Adamson University for the first round closer on Sunday.
In the night cap, UP and De La Salle University settled for an uneventful goalless draw.
Paolo Go had the first strike on goal in the 14th minute but was saved by UP reserve goalkeeper Chevey Celeste.
UP’s best chance on goal came in the 39th minute with a booming strike by Jayvan Calayan that was blocked by Celete’s counterpart Enrico Mangalang.
Both teams struggled in the second half as UP had difficulty with long passes to its final third while La Salle could not capitalize on set pieces off UP fouls.
La Sallian team captain Manuel Cruel had the last chance to crack the egg but he skied a header off a free kick from Mikio Umilin in the last minute of the game.
“The boys played with a game plan. It’s just the finishing,” lamented La Salle coach Hans-Peter Smit.
“Competition [among] the men is really stacked up, walang lamangan eh,” he remarked.
On the other hand, UP coach Anto Gonzales did not mince words about his frustration with his wards.
“Our players don’t want to win. They don’t want to make the necessary sacrifice that it takes to make the team better,” Gonzales said.
With the draw, La Salle maintained a two-win record and a fourth place spot pending their first round ender against Ateneo on Sunday.
The Fighting Maroons tallied their fourth straight draw alongside one win and one loss to end their first round at fifth place.
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