The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers and the University of the East Red Warriors had to make do with a point each in their encounter in the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament, held at McKinley Hill Stadium.
The Growling Tigers had more possession in the first half of the game, while the Red Warrions relied on counterattacks to create goal-scoring opportunities. AJ Pasion set the tone when he had an attempt saved by Red Warriors goalkeeper Lendon Clores.
UE then had chances of their own, and it was only a Jose Abraham save which prevented the goal. Abraham then made another save when he thwarted Mar Diano. The Red Warriors had a free kick that sailed wide of Abraham’s goal.
UST responded with multiple shots of their own, most outside the UE penalty box. Batisla-Ong’s attempt was saved by Clores, and then Darwin Busmion wasn’t able to convert his free kick. Kenneth Tuzon skied his shot from a corner, while Batisla-Ong had an audacious effort on goal from the halfway line narrowly miss the post.
Pasion was arguably UST’s most productive attacker in the first half. He had two consecutive attempts, both denied by the UE defense. Batisla-Ong had a free kick afterwards but his shot went over the bar.
Batisla-Ong was later recorded in the referee’s book but for all the wrong reasons. A bad tackle on a UE Red Warrior left the referee no choice but so send Batisla-Ong off. With momentum on their side, Ariel Mallen had a good shot on goal but Abraham, again, kept UST safe. The scores were level at halftime.
Clores was called into action early in the second half when he caught the ball from a UST free kick. Mallen had a free kick for UE but failed to score. UST came close to the opening goal when Darryl Regala’s shot hit the UE bar.
Busmion then made a speculative shot outside the box but his attempt was tapped out by Clores. Both teams had trouble creating chances from open play and relied on shots from outside the box and set-pieces to create opportunities. In the end, it was a matter of both teams canceling each other out. UST lacked the final ball they craved and UE just weren’t able to play on the counter successfully.
A free kick by UE’s Krysler Opena was blocked by the UST wall. The play was called to a halt when two players from both teams experienced a collision. Jogi Celiz then had a chance when play resumed but the Growling Tiger’s shot was too strong.
In the end, both teams had to settle with a point each. UST were left to rue their lack of a finishing touch while UE should have pounced more on the ten-man Growling Tigers.
Both coaches seemed content with a point. UST coach Marjo Allado admitted that Batisla-Ong had deservedly gotten sent off for his tackle. Allado added, “Pero yung magandang nangyari dun is nung nabawasan kami ng isa, naging strong pa kami nung second half. So we survived kasi yung UE sa corner kicks, ang dami eh. Some of the players nagcacramps na rin pero at least yung second half namin, yung momentum nasa amin. We had a lot of chances. We dominated second half.”
On the other hand, UE coach Ryan Marinay was also happy with his players. “Ngayon kasi siguro masasabi ko na panalo sa akin. Okay na ito basta walang talo.”
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