The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons showed once again why they are one of the title contenders in the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football Tournament.
Up against a tough De La Salle University Green Archers side, the Fighting Maroons secured a 2-0 victory Thursday morning in the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila to get their fifth win of the season.
“It’s not our best came especially in the first 30 minutes of the second half. La Salle brought the game to us. We didn’t match their intensity. We didn’t match their work-rate. That’s when they were really able to control that game in that stretch,” said UP coach Anto Gonzales.
UP took an early lead in the match thanks to Miggy Clarino. The younger sibling of captain Ian Clarino put the ball at the back of the net from a Fighting Maroons corner kick at the 18th minute.
La Salle then pushed hard to recover from the setback in the second half. For all the Green Archers hard work, though, Fighting Maroons goalkeeper Anton Yared was only threatened once when he accidentally fumbled the ball which led substitute striker Cristian Zubiri to shoot wide.
The Green Archers then suffered a blow when one of their main center-backs Nicko Villacin had to be substituted due to injury. Paolo Fernandez moved to center-back while Gyan De Vera replaced Villacin and stayed at right-back.
Fernandez had a rude awakening to the position as UP striker Kintaro Miyagi got past him. Luckily for the rookie defender, Miyagi shot the ball over. Nevertheless, Miyagi wasn’t to be denied near the end of the game.
Fidel Tacardon penetrated the La Salle box from the left flank and laid the ball off for Miyagi who coolly scored his sixth goal of the season as the Fighting Maroons ended up 2-0 winners after 90 minutes.
“(Tacardon) adds another dimension to our attack. One versus one he is very dangerous. He also makes a lot of deep passes and that’s one asset that we have although defensively he still has to work on that aspect,” explained Gonzales.
As for La Salle, it suffered its second straight defeat coming from last February 25 at the hands of University of Santo Tomas. The result continues the Green Archers’ roller coaster ride as they now have three wins and as many losses after six games in the first round.
State U shall next play University of Santo Tomas on on March 4, 9:00 AM while La Salle will go up against National University a day earlier at 5:00 PM. Rizal Memorial Stadium will host both games.