Defending champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws ended the elimination round in fearsome form, scoring all five of their goals in the first half in a resounding 5-0 pummeling of next-door neighbors, the University of the East Red Warriors on Sunday afternoon at the FEU-Diliman Football Field.
The first of the Tams’ five-goal flurry in the half came just three minutes after the opening whistle. Angelou Val Jurao found himself with a good look by the left post, but was quickly surrounded by UE defenders. Jurao instead flicked the ball to a speeding Jhan Jhan Melliza, who after collecting the sly pass easily nudged the ball past UE goalie Lendon Clores and into the net. The two-time Best Striker doubled his tally at the ninth minute with a sneaky but powerful shot by the right post.
On the other hand, the Warriors struggled to establish their presence in the midfield, with the Tams’ midfielders and central defenders contesting them on every possession. Unable to find any good chances inside the box, the UE attackers resorted to shots from long range and around the box. Yet they struggled to score against FEU goalie Patrick Bonn Rallos, who had no trouble collecting the ball on every UE try.
At the 19th minute, Arnel Amita made it 3-0 for the Tams, scoring on a free-kick awarded to him after UE goalie Clores was caught outside of the box. He had another goal at the 37th minute, as he powered his way into the box and collected a low cross from the right wing and later launching from the center of the box. Three minutes later, Eric Ben Giganto added to his already massive season tally, scoring on a penalty-kick awarded to him after he was tripped inside the box by the UE keeper. At the half, the score stood at a tremendous 5-0.
With the Tams scrambling to pad their lead and the Warriors doing everything to stop their opponents’ advances, the next 45 minutes of play saw harder collisions and near scuffles. The Warriors had their first great chance to score at the 55th minute, when Regil Kent Galaura almost scored after heading in a cross from the right wing. However, the shot was stopped in its path by FEU goalie Rallos. Three minutes after UE’s near-goal, Eric Giganto, the Tams’ leading scorer had to be subbed out following a bad fall. He was replaced on the field by Justin Marc Calamba. Though Giganto had to spend a few minutes being treated by the sidelines, he was able to walk back to the bench unassisted.
At the 73rd minute, UE once again came close to their sought after consolation goal, when another Galaura shot was narrowly stopped by Rallos. The ball however bounced back into play and in the path of the Warriors. The ball was once again tapped into the direction of the goal, but Rallos recovered in time to knock away the second shot. The last 15 minutes of the half saw the Tamarraws continue their relentless push for the top of the field, and the 85th minute entry of prized midfielder Paolo Bugas, who spent most of the second round recovering from an injury. At the final whistle, the score remained unchanged.
Assistant coach Dexter Chio after the game commended his boys, and praised them for their aggression in the first half.
As of press time, FEU is at the top of the standings, but could slide to second should the De La Salle University Green Archers prevail over the National University Bulldogs in their game at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field.