Despite playing with just 10 men for most of the game, the National University Bulldogs finished their first round campaign with a convincing 3-0 rout of the struggling University of the East Red Warriors, Wednesday afternoon at the FEU Diliman pitch.
Both UE and NU had their share of early opportunities at the start of the first half, but it was the Bulldogs who drew first blood at the 7th minute, care of Eddie Alivio, who connected with a free kick from the far right flank with a header that sent the ball flying past UE goalie Lendon Clores and into the net. Regil Galaura had the chance to equalize at the 11th minute, breaking through the NU back to get NU goalie Chris Perocho out of position, but the ball was swept from under his feet by an NU defender before he could get into position for the point-blank shot.
Commotion erupted as the 15th minute clocked in, when Darwin Regala was given a yellow card after accidentally kicking UE’s Mason Trent Vergara as the latter was maneuvering through the left wing. Louie Polinag came to his teammate’s defense by lashing at Regala, but players from both sides rushed in to keep the two apart before blows could be thrown.
Paolo Salenga, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, added to his growing Season 77 tally at the 23rd minute after managing to escape the UE defenders to go one-on-one with the UE goalie, needing only to nudge the ball into the direction of the net to give the NU booters their second goal of the game.
The 29th minute saw NU suffer a serious blow to their campaign, when Alivio was slapped with a straight red card for throwing an elbow. Despite their opponents being down to 10 men, UE’s offensive pushes repeatedly found themselves disrupted by the NU back. At the 37th minute, a Patrick Valenzuela goal from a strike just inside the penalty box gave the Bulldogs the 3-0 lead.
Jeffrey Lacsamana had the chance to kick the UE campaign into life just before the 45th minute, getting close enough to strike from the right post, but the shot was blocked by NU defender Arnel Casil. The ball however bounced back into play, and was rebounded by Lacsamana, who managed to redirect the ball into the direction of the goal. This time, NU goalie Perocho managed to scramble in time to grab the ball before it could cross the goal line. At the half, NU led 3-0.
The second half saw the Bulldogs shift gears and focus on disrupting UE’s flow. Despite managing to regain their hold on the wing, the Warriors however struggled to get through the NU back, who prevented the UE frontliners from maneuvering in the penalty box. Approaching the last 10 minutes of the second half, the Bulldogs came close to scoring a couple of times, but they too were unable to score against a reinvigorated UE goalie. At the end of 90 minutes, NU walked away with the victory.