At this stage of the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament, every point matters. There is no team which has a guaranteed place in the Final Four with six teams having a realistic chance of clinching a slot. With how close the top six teams are points-wise, even a draw would feel like a defeat. Case in point: the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
Before Sunday night (April 3, 2016), UP were fourth in the standings with 18 points. Now that the Fighting Maroons defeated the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 3-0, at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig, things are looking rosier for the former as they are now at 2nd place with 21 points. As for Adamson, the Soaring Falcons are stuck at 7th place with 3 points. Daniel Gadia (44′), Ian Clarino (54′) and Carlos Monfort (78′) were the goalscorers for State U.
It was very much all UP in the first half. Fighting Maroons goalkeeper Ace Villanueva was a virtual spectator in this period. As for Villanueva’s opposite, Adamson goalkeeper Carl Viray was busy throughout the night. Viray easily caught an early Ian Clarino free kick and had to watch the likes of Gadia, Ian Clarino, Miggy Clarino and Kintaro Miyagi shoot towards his goal. Luckily for Viray, the Fighting Maroons failed to hit the target at those instances.
Adamson struggled to threatened UP’s backline. All the action was at their end of the pitch. Only the crossbar prevented UP center-back Patxi Santos’ free kick attempt from going in. Viray was then called into action when Kyle Magdato forced him to make a good save against his header. At the 44th minute, though, the floodgates were opened. Gadia received a pass inside the Adamson box, and he made no mistake when he unleashed a shot towards the top corner. UP deservedly led, 1-0, at the break with Adamson outclassed on all areas of the pitch.
At, 0-1, down against a strong, albeit, wasteful UP, Adamson still had a chance in this game. The Soaring Falcons won a free kick outside of the Fighting Maroons’ box and Vienne Parao stepped up to take it, only for him to shoot it over. That was Adamson’s best chance of the match as UP resumed normal operations afterwards when Ian Clarino scored via a header from Santos’ free kick at the 54th minute.
Despite the two-goal lead, the Fighting Maroons were still hungry for more goals. Christian Lapas and and Santos forced good saves from Viray. At the 78th minute, however, UP finally added to their tally via Monfort’s well-placed goal inside the Adamson box after the Soaring Falcons failed to clear the danger. More chances came for UP before fulltime, but Viray lessened the damage for Adamson. It finished UP, 3-0, Adamson at the end of ninety minutes.
In spite of the three-goal margin and clean sheet, UP head coach Anto Gonzales was still unsatisfied with how his wards performed. Gonzales said, “Subpar performance especially from the game-changers or yung substitutes namin. Nobody really stepped up and it was a good opportunity for them to show how well they can helo the team moving forward, but I felt that they weren’t up to the task.”
Next for UP is Ateneo de Manila University at the Moro Lorenzo Field inside the latter’s campus on Thursday (April 7, 2016; 4:00PM). Meanwhile, Adamson plays the University of Santo Tomas two days later on Saturday (April 9, 2016; 3:00PM) at the McKinley Hill Stadium.