Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]

Happy Thursday: DLSU slams UP to seize pole position



It is a Happy Thursday for Nathan Alquiros and company as the midfield general scored twice to forge a resounding 3-0 win for the DLSU Men’s Football Team against the UP Fighting Maroons at the FEU-Diliman Football Field earlier this afternoon. The score does not reflect the game’s complexion but a late UP defensive collapse in the latter stages permitted the Lasallians to flex their muscles.

DLSU dictated the game’s pace in the opening stages, applying pressure on UP’s defense. The Maroons were able to withstand the pressure and managed to fire the first shot of the match. Off a quickly taken free kick, Jinggoy Valmayor got to shoot but Gregory Yang stood in his way. La Salle had two free kicks approaching the 15th minute mark but both were futile. Maroon midfielder Daniel Gadia tested La Salle goalkeeper Paeng de Guzman with a shot that the latter caught. On the other side, Feb Baya headed away Yang’s decent delivery into the Maroons’ box to prevent any takers from challenging UP keeper Ace Villanueva. Moments later, Matthew Nierras located Christian Zubiri with a lobbed diagonal ball but the latter was unable to decisively touch the ball, leaving UP’s defenders to clear the ball away.

Reminiscent of their first half surge against FEU, the Maroons strung up three neat chances to claim the opening goal of the match. Valmayor’s shot was blocked by Nierras in between off target attempts by Michael Simms and Gadia, all of which took place within the midway stretch of the first half. Three minutes after Gadia’s shot went wide, Yang’s free kick was cleared yet again. Then, UP had another couple of moments when they produced opportunities to go ahead. Valmayor was about to gain possession inside La Salle’s box but De Guzman urgently rushed to drive the ball as far from him as possible. Gadia, who has been creating danger whenever in possession, had his attempt stifled by Nierras. Approaching the break, La Salle’s Alquiros and Bustamante had their shots blocked. Halftime came with no team yet on the score sheet.

Just two minutes into the second half, UP almost went ahead courtesy of Valmayor only for his shot to have rattled the bar before getting cleared. Prior to that, Carlos Monfort pounced onto a loose ball mishandled by Gerald Layumas inside the box and the latter managed to recover in time to cleanly tackle Monfort before Valmayor came close to scoring. La Salle earned two opportunities to score from set pieces but the Maroons stubbornly defended to keep the Lasallians at bay. At the hour mark, De Guzman was properly positioned to stop Valmayor’s shot from going in. There were also two good chances but last year’s finalists failed to get a shot on target. He also had another chance to score but Nierras got in his way and the DLSU defender headed it to De Guzman instead.

Meanwhile, La Salle turned up the heat in the last 20 minutes of action. Yang’s free kick was parried away by Villanueva while Alquiros’ shot was tame enough for Villanueva to capture at the 75th minute. However, Alquiros found a way to break the deadlock two minutes later when he received a pass from Koizumi. Lou Rafanan telegraphed Koizumi’s pass but lost control of the ball, which then went to Alquiros. He then had enough space to clinically bury the game’s first goal. It looked like the goal that would have secured the three points, but with quality opposition like UP, a one-goal lead is not safe. Six minutes after going ahead, La Salle earned a penalty kick when Rafanan fouled Chuck Uy inside the box. Alquiros stepped up to double his and DLSU’s tally with just five minutes left to play. Valmayor threatened to a goal back but two of his free kicks did not bother De Guzman while Patxi Santos’ attempt was also blocked. In the end, it was La Salle’s Uy who scored a goal to complete a 3-0 rout after picking up Koizumi’s saved free kick attempt.

After the win, DLSU coach Hans Smit lauded his players after displaying a fine effort on both ends to get the confidence-boosting victory. “I’ll give it to the boys. They reciprocated very well to what we’ve been trying to instill in them.” In support, Man of the Match Alquiros was happy with the way they performed, particularly in staying patient towards scoring. “In the first half, we didn’t have much [chances] so I just told them to just keep doing what we do in training and we’ll get there [scoring],” he stated. Now sitting on top of the standings, the team is hoping to sustain their fine form as they go into the Final Four and try to end the 17-year championship drought.

Meanwhile, UP coach Anto Gonzales acknowledged that his charges had the better of the opportunities prior to Alquiros’ goal but has identified a major concern moving forward. “La Salle didn’t have a very hard time spreading their defense out because our wingers did nothing,” he expressed. Evidently, most of UP’s chances came from Valmayor and Gadia who have played more central while the rest seemed to have floundered. Good news for UP is that they still have time to fix their problems before Final Four begins on March 1.

La Salle now has a league-best win-draw-loss record of 8-5-0, keeping them unbeaten in 13 games while notching just their second win against a title contender in eight tries this season. The Maroons, on the other hand, fell to third–still level with second-placed FEU on points at 27 but own an inferior goal difference. DLSU can clinch the top seed entering the Final Four with a win against NU on Sunday. On the same day, UP will end their elimination round campaign with a match against the young Adamson squad who notched their first point of the season earlier with a 2-2 stalemate against fellow cellar dwellers UE.

Click to comment