UAAP: Green Booters scarred in battle with Growling Tigers after 2-1 defeat in second-round opener

The DLSU Green Booters were wounded by the UST Growling Tigers, 2-1, as they suffered their second loss in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Football Tournament earlier tonight, March 24, at the UP Diliman Football Pitch. 

Paolo Go slotted in a free kick in the 81st minute for the Green-and-White in hopes of launching a comeback, but Justine Marquez and Kyler Escobar’s goals were enough to create a dominant advantage for the Growling Tigers.

Eyes on the prize

With a chance to tighten their seat in the top four, the DLSU Green Booters were in for a heated and physical battle against the UST Growling Tigers. The Lasallians immediately recalled their defensive tactics as the Thomasians controlled possession early on in the first half. Isaac Anoh tried to create chances for the Green-and-White as he showed off his dribbling skills when he chased down balls on the wings, but UST efficiently reacted to his plays to shut down any easy chances for the Green Booters. 

Inspired by Anoh’s determination, the other green shirts upped their game, hoping to find a breakthrough. Enrico Mangaoang was on full alert between the posts, and the defenders kept their composure as the frontline found opportunities to express themselves. Anoh continued terrorizing the Growling Tigers as he attracted many defenders to prevent him from creating any chance. Captain Mo Almohjili continued to boost his team’s momentum as his free kick in the 24th minute raised eyebrows among the Growling Tigers when he hit the crossbar.

After a cooling break, La Salle found another chance with Anoh crossing the ball to Luis Elnas but could not convert on their shot. Christian Peñalosa then tested his shooting range and attempted a shot just outside the box, but it was blocked by a UST defender. But the Green Booters found their momentum halted when UST’s Marquez received a pass inside the box from Chris Valderama and slotted in the ball just right at the end of the half in the 44th minute, 1-0.

Leaving it all on the pitch

With the Growling Tigers creating more clear-cut chances in the first half, the Green Booters wanted to turn the tide in the second period. However, both squads could not take a stranglehold of the game due to early sloppy play. Anoh continued to be the sole threat for La Salle, with the best chance coming in the 54th minute when the prolific striker drove down the left wing, got rid of the defender with a fake shot, and struck with his favored right foot, which was well-read by UST goalie Jose Abada.

At every attack from the Green-and-White, the Growling Tigers were able to bring the ball down the other end—which created problems for La Salle keeper Mangaoang. With the high pace of the game, along with the high temperature taking its toll on the players on the field, the Taft-based squad was unable to get back on track when UST midfielder Archie Belluga let loose a pinpoint diagonal ball ahead of the La Salle defenders. This gave way in the stride of Escobar to give him a one-on-one against Mangaoang, which he put away clinically to give the España-based side a secure 2-0 advantage in the 69th minute.

UST nearly made it 3-0 after La Salle defender Rain Del Rosario was dispossessed near his own box, allowing substitute Francis Botavara to shoot inside the box, which a diving Mangaoang ultimately saved in the 79th minute.

With the momentum falling into the hands of the Growling Tigers, the Green Booters found a lifeline in the 81st minute after Go’s freekick from the left side was mishandled by keeper Abada to turn the tide with nine minutes and added time to go. However, UST maintained a solid defense in the remaining minutes to come away with a tight 2-1 victory at the full-time whistle.

The DLSU Green Booters look to regain their winning form after Holy Week when they face the AdU Soaring Falcons on April 4 at 6:30 pm at the same venue.

Daniel Quiroga

By Daniel Quiroga

Aren Reyes

By Aren Reyes

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