After their loss to archrivals the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, the De La Salle University Green Archers had to beat the Adamson University Soaring Falcons in order to strengthen their claim for a Final Four slot in this UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament. In the end, La Salle pulled through against a stubborn Adamson, 2-0, today (April 17, 2016) at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig.
Greggy Yang (43′) and Jed Diamante (86′) were the goalscorers for the Green Archers. The main reason La Salle failed to add more goals was Adamson goalkeeper Carl Viray, who had a magnificent game. The result left La Salle in 2nd place with 26 points. On the other hand, Adamson were stuck in 7th place with 4 points.
Once the first half started, it was clear how both teams would play. Adamson continued their style of sitting back and waiting to pounce on the counter, while La Salle comfortably maintained possession of the ball. Chances came aplenty for La Salle as the Green Archers were the more proactive side of the two. Viray made fine saves against Gerald Layumas, Cristian Zubiri, and Jhoguev Ybanez.
That’s not too say, though, that Adamson failed to attack. The Soaring Falcons did, only for the Green Archers’ defense to easily deal with them in every instance. One of Adamson’s forays forward even led to a counter-attack for La Salle, headed by Jojo Borromeo and Nace Gonzales. Gonzales and Borromeo successfully penetrated Adamson’s end of the pitch and even unlocked the defense with good passing, but the latter’s shot was too tame to test Viray.
It was one-sided in all except the score. Layumas again tried his luck, and his shot narrowly went over Adamson’s goal. Zubiri then intercepted the ball inside Adamson’s box and laid it off towards Borromeo whose shot was denied with another fine save by Viray.
Inevitably, the goal finally arrived for La Salle in the 43rd minute. Yang continued his fine form in the match when he continuously sprayed passes towards his teammates. He played Gonzales through, who in turn laid it off to him to finish the move in front of the Adamson goal to hand the Green Archers a, 1-0, lead. Just minutes later, Viray denied La Salle a second goal when he easily caught Javi Romero-Salas’ shot. It finished La Salle, 1-0, over Adamson at halftime, with the Green Archers proving good value for their lead.
As in the first half, La Salle started aggressively once the game resumed. Romero-Salas failed to hit the target twice in succession. He then turned into a provider when he delivered a fantastic cross into the Adamson box which Zubiri failed to convert in front of goal. The Green Archers should have been up by more than that solitary goal and as time passed by, Adamson grew more confident of scoring one themselves.
True enough, Bryce Rabino had a good chance to score from an Adamson corner but he headed over. At the other, it became business as usual. Borromeo won a free kick which Yang took, only for the Adamson wall to stand firm. Adamson, though, grew stronger, and La Salle goalkeeper Paeng De Guzman had to be alert to stop Bless Brian Jumo II’s free kick from going in. Nevertheless, it was still La Salle who dictated the match’s tempo.
Substitute Yoshihiro Koizumi was brought at Zubiri’s expense and the former could have scores La Salle’s second goal of the game, but his attempt was cleared off the line. Diamante joined in the bombardment, but Viray again handled it well. The goalkeeper was in exceptional form, and even literally juggled Romero-Salas’ attempt to prevent it from going in.
Time was ticking on and a second La Salle goal looked realistic, yet impossible to happen at the same time. Romero-Salas cut inside again and unleashed a strong shot towards goal, but Viray’s one-handed deflection was enough to clear the danger. At this rate, Viray should have been given a statue with how he single-handedly limited the damage La Salle could have possibly inflicted.
Alas the that insurance goal finally arrived for La Salle in the 86th minute. A ball was directed forward with Diamante up front on his own. In just a single move, Diamante headed the ball over the approaching Viray and his looping shot hit the back of the net. The Green Archers failed to add to their tally and the match finished 2-0 in their favor.
Green Archers head coach Hans-Peter Smit said, after the game, “We had control of the backline and of the midfield, but when we play other teams it depends of how (the players) would react to it. I don’t care really too much of the tactics I got. It’s the whole year we’ve been training for that. That’s how it’s supposed to be done. It’s now the attitude. How will (the players) go the next game because we’re not out of the woods yet. We still have UST to contend with and for sure UST is not gonna give it to us on a silver platter. We drew them in the first round. Most important is to get to the top four. After the UST game, let’s see what happens.” Smit also praised Viray but lamented his team’s finishing.
La Salle will end their elimination round campaign against the University of Santo Tomas (4:00PM) while Adamson will do so against the University of the East (9:00AM). Both games will be held on Thursday (April 21, 2016) at the Moro Lorenzo Field in the Ateneo de Manila University Manila campus.