An exciting UAAP Season 77 opening match ended the way it started as La Salle and UP fought tooth-and-nail for a 1-1 draw Saturday night at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field in Quezon City.
UP took charge of the game’s opening 15 minutes. The La Salle defense was tested by the Maroons who were led by their superstar striker Gerardo Valmayor. The forward came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 14th minute with his shot just smacking the woodwork of DLSU. Jose Montelibano and Iñigo Gonzales created a couple of opportunities, but both were well dealt with by Ace Villanueva. On the other end, UP’s Vincent Aguilar joined forces with Valmayor in stirring trouble inside the La Salle box.
After a series of back-and-forth play, the Maroons netted the breakthrough. In the 35th minute, Valmayor took advantage of the confusion amongst players who perceived the ball to have gone out of play. The forward then found a decent amount of space to score home a magnificently struck shot that left Paeng de Guzman helpless in front of goal.
Just moments later, Sabin Bustamante entered the match for Montelibano. The fourth year winger almost provided the Lasallians a possible equalizer. Unfortunately for La Salle, his shot struck the crossbar. UP held on to a single-goal lead at halftime.
La Salle played the pressure game aggressively but the first dangerous chance fell to Aguilar. The UP captain’s attempt however sailed wide.
With the score still narrowly in favor of last year’s runner-up, DLSU capitalized on the chances presented to them. Gio Diamante’s shot was wildly hit in the 53rd minute. They were rewarded soon after though, as Gelo Diamante picked up the ball inside UP’s half before dribbling around the left flank and finding Chuck Uy. The Davaoeño striker nodded the ball without contest to level the match at one goal apiece.
Both teams eagerly attempted to produce goals. Nathan Alquiros had a vital touch to prevent Valmayor from scoring anew. Koizumi’s free kick as a result of a foul just outside the 18-yard box went straight to the UP wall. Daniel Gadia also had a couple of good looks at goal inside the last 20 minutes of action but neither made it to the back of the net. La Salle fended off UP’s attacks from dead ball situations in the last five minutes to carve out a draw in the first game of the season.