|Lawrence Colina (#20) and NU compound more misery to La Salle (file photo)|
QUEZON CITY -- It was an unexpected turn of events at the first match in the Moro Lorenzo as National U came back from a goal down by condemning La Salle to another painful defeat, their fourth in their now five-match winless run that puts the Green Archers’ hopes of reaching the final four in peril.
The first half of the match was evenly contested with few chances being presented to both schools. For NU in particular, these chances were gilt-edged, aided in part by La Salle’s tentative defending, but the Bulldogs were just not polished enough to finish them off. With the scoring opportunities coming at a luxury and both teams knowing the importance of the fixture, it was not much of a surprise that it ended in a stalemate.
At the restart, both teams started with more attacking verve and intensity, La Salle with their threats coming from both the middle and the wings while NU focusing much of their lightning-quick offense from the flanks. The Green Archers eventually got the breakthrough with their efforts as Rigo Joseph opened the scoring by notching from close range in the 53rd minute from a mix-up inside the box.
However, La Salle failed to capitalize from this narrow lead as NU mounted a spirited comeback. While the Bulldogs toiled away with their quick runs from the flanks, DLSU’s suspect defending came more into prominence as they had a hard time to suppress the pressure in their own-half, with NU even coming close with a shot that hit the crossbar. Come the 76th minute, the inevitable happened as Lawrence Colina was able to get the opportunistic equalizer off a punch from Kirby Almonte from a dangerous Jojo Marcaida cross.
NU continued with the pressure even hitting the crossbar once again, showing their intent and smelling blood. After a few moments, Colina proved to be NU’s talisman as he scored a well taken chance in the 84th minute from a corner kick to shove themselves ahead.
It was a sucker punch for the Green Archers, as they scrambled to get an equalizer to no avail, which eventually affected their overall flow, compounding their misery as they committed an infraction inside their penalty area well into injury time, in which Colina made no mistake in completing his hat-trick from the spot in the second minute of time added on which barely made it as it bounced off the left post before going in, completing his stellar performance for his team.
It was the point of no return for both sides from this moment onward as one team finally comes to grips with the reality of a well-deserved win while the other contemplates on what might have been.
The 3-1 upset eventually gave NU a big boost for their UAAP LXXIX campaign while DLSU needs to produce an immaculate string of results, especially in the second round, to put them back in contention for the semifinals after ending the first round with only five points after seven matches.
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