A three-goal spurt in the last six minutes of the first half distanced La Salle from UE en route to a commanding 5-1 win at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field on Saturday night.
The Diamante brothers feasted against the Red Warriors by scoring the crucial three goals, which parted a dominant DLSU squad from their UE counterparts.
Gelo, the younger of the Diamante siblings, attacked from the get go but he had taken a step too many in shooting from the best possible positions. UE won two corners a few moments later but both were futile as neither produced a shot to bother Koizumi. The rookie played as a substitute midfielder in previous matches before replacing the injured Paeng de Guzman.
La Salle’s next attempt was fruitful and it came just nine minutes after kick off. Gio crossed the ball to his brother Gelo inside the box. Marked tightly, the forward threaded a pass to Jose Montelibano who made no mistake in tapping it past goalkeeper Lendon Clores for the game’s first goal.
The next quarter of an hour of action produced more chances for DLSU but the UE defense stood firm in warding off any clear goal scoring chances. In the same period, the Red Warriors had two harmless shots that needed no stopping from Koizumi.
In pursuit of a second goal, La Salle remained aggressive in attacking. In the 27th minute, Montelibano sent a shot over the bar. It was followed by Gelo Diamante’s strike off a Montelibano cross that was an inch away from becoming the second goal of the match. Shortly after, Jojo Borromeo had his shot saved by Clores who had to stretch a lot of muscles in capturing the ball. Highly involved in most of DLSU’s offensive plays, Montelibano was denied of his second goal in the match by the skilled UE goalkeeper who tipped his shot over the goal.
The second goal of the match came soon after that array of dangerous La Salle chances. But instead of widening the gap, it proved to be an equalizer. Noel Brago was culpable in conceding a penalty in the 34th minute following a handball infraction during a UE dead ball play. Kim Medina nailed the penalty by striking the ball onto the post before sneaking into the bottom left corner.
It prompted DLSU to score a quick goal to restore their lead. They were not denied as a nifty play among veterans led to a breakthrough goal. Matthew Nierras lobbed the ball to Nate Alquiros who then nodded it into the path of Gio Diamante. The captain found himself uncontested from around 10 yards to powerfully guide the ball against the helpless Clores.
It did not take long for the third goal to arrive. Gio whipped a shot that forced a wonderful reaction save from Clores. Nonetheless, Gelo rebounded with a clever header into an unguarded goal. At the stroke of halftime, Montelibano fed Gelo a quality cross for the latter to score his second of the night and La Salle’s fourth with just 45 minutes gone by.
“Naging problema namin ‘yung marking. Minsan, hindi nakukuha ‘yung tao,” declared UE Assistant Coach Shem Bensurto, who also shared that they came into the match missing a couple of key players in Richard Mayor and Ariel Mallen. They scored a goal each in their last match against Adamson.
With a huge lead, La Salle continued to control the game but took their foot off the gas. UE also defended tirelessly to prevent conceding another goal. They held the team in green and white scoreless for about 35 minutes but could not do a lot about the fifth goal. Alquiros awed players and spectators alike after hitting the top left corner with a stunning free kick with just 10 minutes left in the game. It was the last of the goals as UE survived succeeding attempts by DLSU to avoid falling behind by more goals that may hurt their goal difference.
DLSU Coach Hans Smit expressed slight satisfaction with his players’ attacking display but remains adamant that the team has a lot more to accomplish this season. Entering the break assured of a spot in the top four, Smit tells, “We’re doing much better than last year. It’s a good start. What we need is to [at least] maintain and improve.”
DLSU now sits above the UAAP men’s football tournament standings with eight points on the back of two wins and two draws in four games. The Lasallians have played a game more than FEU, Ateneo, and UP–all of whom are tied in second place with seven points. Meanwhile, UE remains in sixth after another loss and may even be joined by Adamson and/or UST should the two teams win their respective matches tomorrow.