The first clash between two perennial title contenders did not disappoint.
In a fiercely-fought contest, De La Salle University and Far Eastern University shared the spoils with a 1-1 stalemate in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament, Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
“We still have quite a young team. I’m satisfied with the one point. One point is better than zero points considering that for eighty-percent of the game, we were catching up,” opined La Salle coach Hans-Peter Smit.
Down by a goal, La Salle skipper Jed Diamante had ice in his veins when scoring the equalizer in the 86th minute. Beforehand, substitute Akim Dalam was brought down in the FEU box, allowing the former to step up and convert the penalty calmly past Tamaraws goalie Dave Parac.
Diamante’s goal dampened FEU’s hopes for a win after the Tamaraws’ bright start to the game.
Geri Martini Rey saw Green Archers goalkeeper Jason Edward Blanco away from his line. Rey then unleashed a wonder strike to give his side the lead in the 13th minute.
It was the best possible opening for FEU. The Morayta school even almost doubled its lead in the same period when forward Gio Pabualan almost saw his free-kick squandered into a goal by Blanco.
On the opposing end, La Salle’s best chance of the first half came from rookie Franck Anoh, whose attempt went narrowly over the Tamaraws’ goal.
“I think the first game is the most difficult for all competitions. I think our players had confidence but too much excitement. I think we had good chances but unfortunately today, we couldn’t (finish them),” said FEU mentor Park Bobae.
Unfortunately, the game was also overshadowed by a short commotion, as La Salle midfielder Mikio Umilin tried to delay the game after Diamante’s leveler. However, the game quickly restarted soon after.
The two schools shall next play on Sunday, March 8 at the same venue. FEU faces University of the East at 8:00 AM, while La Salle plays Adamson University after at 4:00 PM.