The reigning champions produced abundant goalscoring opportunities but only an Eric Giganto touch just outside the six-yard box prevented FEU from dropping two points against the UE Red Warriors following a hard-fought 1-0 win at the FEU Diliman Football Field earlier this afternoon.
Lendon Clores led the UE defense against an aggressive FEU frontline who sought to sustain the free-flowing attack that resulted in a massive 7-4 win against UST last Sunday. Usual suspects Giganto and Jesus Melliza blew a string of good chances that would have brought them ahead much earlier. Clores exhibited alert goalkeeping by routinely catching long distance shots from the home side.
Twenty-nine minutes after kickoff, FEU’s Val Jurao launched a powerful shot from around 30 yards out only for the ball to bounce off against the crossbar. Within the next 10 minutes, the Tamaraws had a couple of identical plays that tested Clores. In the 37th minute, Arnel Amita tried his luck from long range but Clores stopped it before finally collecting the ball to prevent Audie Menzi from an easy rebound. A couple of minutes after, it was Paolo Bugas and Melliza’s turn to unsuccessfully connect past the UE goalkeeper. Both teams entered halftime the way they began.
After being virtually tamed in the first half, the Warriors created the first chance through Ariel Mallen who just struck wide to the right in the 52nd minute. It was the lone UE shot inside the first 15 minutes of the second half. Amita and Menzi fired wide a few moments after the Reds filed their first shot of the match, but it wasn’t to be a barren day for FEU.
Nicolas Ferrer swung a cross from the left flank which fell into the path of the rampaging Giganto. Clores did his best to keep the tournament’s current top scorer from adding to his tally, but the prolific striker nabbed his fourth of UAAP Season 77 by outpacing the UE goalkeeper to slot the ball into the back of the net in the 56th minute.
FEU attempted to lengthen their advantage but the UE defense clung on to prevent a thrashing from happening. The Tamaraws’ best chance in doubling the lead came in the 76th minute. Reymart Cubon smashed a shot but was rejected by the unwavering Clores.
UE may not have conceded further but they had a couple of worrying events down the wire. Clores was cluttered by Patrick Rallos who in exchange went into the referee’s books. Rhoyet Sola also had his name written twice by referee Christian Pacaña which merited a red card that saw the Red Warriors down to 10 men.
The last chance of the game fell to Mallen whose free kick was comfortably gathered by Ray Joyel. Seconds after, the full time whistle sounded to conclude another positive result for FEU. The Tamaraws go on top with six points out of the possible six while the Red Warriors remain at the bottom of the table with two losses to open their UAAP season.