The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons defeated the University of the East Red Warriors 2-0 to win their first game of the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament. The goals came from Raphael Resuma (18′) and Vincent Aguilar (90′)
The Fighting Maroons were simply the more dominant team in the first half. They relentlessly bom bombarded the Red Warriors’ goal as soon as the game started. Rookie Kyle Magdato won a free kick outside the UE box. Julian Clarino then took the free kick but he shot it over the bar.
The Red Warriors wanted to get into their opponents faces and frustration ensued on the Fighting Maroons’ faces. Meanwhile, another UP rookie, Resuma, was lively at the right flank. Resuma dropped the ball to his captain Daniel Gadia in the UE box but the latter squandered it. Magdato later wasted a glorious chance for the first goal when he wasn’t able to head the ball properly into the net after a Gadia cross. Gadia had another chance but he shot wide.
It was in the 18th minute when the Fighting Maroons got the goal they deserved. Two rookies combined for UP. Daniel Saavedra picked out Resuma who made an unstoppable shot inside the box which landed in the top left corner. UE goalkeeper Lendon Clores couldn’t have done anything about it.
Now at the backfoot, the Red Warriors were forced to attack. UE’s Bon Opena broke UP’s offside trap and was through on goal but Fighting Maroons goalkeeper Ace Villanueva was alert to stop him. The Red Warriors best outlet of attack was rookie Mar Diano.
Villanueva was forced to make another save when UE’s Ariel Mallen had a shot in front of goal but the former easily caught the ball. UP later regained composure and had attempts from Resuma and Gadia but Clores was in full control. UP carried a slender 1-0 advantage at half time.
It was a similar story in the second half as the Fighting Maroons had most of the chances once again. Saavedra forced another save from Clores. The Red Warriors, though, had an attempt of their own when Opena’s free kick went over the goal. Saavedra had another chance on goal, this time it was blocked by a UE player and then center-back Patxi Santos had a free kick which failed to test Clores.
UP kept on pushing for that second goal. Clores easily caught Aguilar’s shot and then Clarino had another free kick which, again, failed to test Clores. At that point of the game, UE’s way of attack only relied on set-pieces. Mallen’s free kick went over UP’s goal.
Gadia again tested Clores but the latter saved it. The Fighting Maroons thought they clinched their second goal but Clarino’s header from a corner was ruled out after an infraction.
At the 82nd minute, Ryan Cruz won a penalty and UE’s Louie Polinag got sent off for a second yellow card. Just when everyone thought Aguilar will score, Clores produced a fine save.
Aguilar made up for his miss at the end of the game when he scored UP’s second goal via a shot inside the box. The final score was UP 2-0 UE.
When asked for his post-game thoughts, UP coach Anto Gonzales was pleased with the win but felt a lot of things were still lacking for the Fighting Maroons. Gonzales said, “If you assess the performance, we’re still like not even close to our best. I think 60%, maybe less. A lot of things to look forward to in our next match.”
One of the things the Fighting Maroons lacked was a finishing touch. The graduation of striker Jinggoy Valmayor left a big hole in the UP attack. Gonzales said, “Actually yung ginawa namin halos the whole week, 2-3 sessions, was work on combination plays pero I thought pagdating dito sa attacking third, we sort of ran out of ideas. Wala masyadong movement. Halos pilit yung mga passes.”
In the end, UP looked at this result as a starting point while UE had work to do.
UP will face Ateneo next, while UE meets Adamson on Feb. 25, 2016 at the Moro Lorenzo Field.