Neighbors and two of the most recent UAAP champions, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles both maintained their dominance in UAAP Season 80 men’s football action.
The Blue Eagles took to the field earlier when they defeated the UE Red Warriors, 4-0, in the breakfast time encounter. After lunch, the maroon-clad, league-leading UP team flexed their muscles on their way to a 5-1 victory against the winless — and still pointless — Adamson University Soaring Falcons.
Virtually through to the semis, the two Katipunan-based squads have set their sights on finishing the elimination rounds strongly. By both winning their assignments, they are also keeping the race for first place interesting.
Scoring goals number 14 and 15 of the season, Jarvey Gayoso headlined Ateneo’s latest victory. His first goal came off a UE defensive error. The Red Warriors were simply left powerless to handle someone like Gayoso an opportunity to finish in front of goal.
If the first was given, the second was earned when Gayoso sprinted down the left flank before smashing the ball into the back of the net. It was the last goal that UE conceded for the half, as they avoided absorbing further damage before the break.
If Gayoso took center stage in the first half, it was his teammates that stepped it up in the second half. The best spell of Ateneo arrived just before the hour mark. It was during that time when they doubled the already-unassailable two-goal lead.
Ateneo’s thirst for more goals was reflected by the way they notched their last two goals. Rupert Baña got on the end off an Enzo Ceniza’s interrupted pass to slide it into the back of the net, 57 minutes in. Three minutes later, another attempt coming from Ceniza’s boot resulted in a goal – this time around it was Sam Lim who guided the ball home.
Thrashed yet again by the Blue Eagles, the Red Warriors now face a difficult path towards the Final Four.
Meanwhile, the win locks Ateneo’s spot in the Final Four with two games to spare. They also kept themselves within range of the UP Fighting Maroons, who are in first place. Only a point separated them before the latter’s match, which was followed by the Eagles’ win.
The Fighting Maroons responded to their Quezon City rivals by drubbing Adamson, 5-1, largely thanks to Fidel Tacardon’s first half hat trick. The rookie completed the feat within the half to totally reflect the gulf in quality between the league’s best and worst teams on the basis of their points tally.
The freshman only took three minutes to get himself into the scoresheet to open the scoring. Becoming more confident, Tacardon doubled his tally after slotting the rebound off a narrowly missed shot made by Christian Lapas.
Ahead by two goals, the Fighting Maroons wanted more, and got what they were looking for 13 minutes before halftime. King Miyagi bagged his ninth goal of the season, the second most in the league, after he finished well from John Abraham.
That wasn’t the end of it in the first half, as a third goal from Tacardon came right before the break. After the match, UP coach Anto Gonzales heaped praise on his stellar recruit.
“Even before his first UAAP game, I think the expectations for him to deliver were tremendous. He’s been delivering so far. He’s been creating a lot of scoring opportunities for not just scoring himself but also creating [for others],” the UP mentor put into words.
Tacardon has been so good for UP lately that Gonzales is growing concerned about his team’s reliance on his individual talent. “We put him out in the second half to see how the team responds and you see how they responded. You change one player and it changes the whole complexion of the game. It shouldn’t be that way,” Gonzales voiced with disappointment.
Despite dominating the contest throughout, the Maroons failed to do what the Eagles did: keep a clean sheet. A late goal by Lapas made it a five-goal advantage only for it to be cancelled by a Jusuel Pilarca goal. For Gonzales, who holds high standards, this is a cause for concern.
“We don’t really choose our opponents. Our performances should not depend on who are opponents are. That’s very clear to them. I don’t know if it’s really being absorbed very well. When they want to be the best, they can be the best. But once they relaxed, they stopped thinking, they switched off, it’s not a good sight to see,” he went on to say.
Whether that will be improved upon remains to be seen. What’s certain now is that the two Katipunan sides will return to the final four. Both teams look forward to the challenge of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the upcoming week.