|Inching closer. UST kept their grip in the Final Four with a come from behind win.|
MANILA -- A well-executed set piece by UST in the 89th minute proved to be the difference as Kenneth Tuzon buried the chance to defeat FEU and strengthen their push for the semifinals.
A searing pitch at the Rizal Memorial Stadium greeted both sides as the first half kicked off with both squads laboriously finding their rhythm in the heat. Eventually the weather could have played a factor in the game that could have affected the defensive focus and provided anxiety in the offense with several offside calls and lapses on the backline that presented both squads with half chances.
The Tamaraws of Vince Santos got the first blood though in the 24th minute as Mark Arranguez got enough space and time to control the ball and come up with a well taken shot that bounced off the bar and into the back of the net that gave opposing keeper, Zaldy Abraham, no chance to stop the shot.
Feeling the advantage of the first goal, FEU suddenly played with more confidence as they almost conjured chance after chance immediately through their pressing and corners but the season hosts was able to muster defensively to deal with the pressure.
In the 35th minute, the Growling Tigers were able to restore parity as a breakaway opportunity by Conrado Dimacali’s run provided enough space to send a perfect lay-off to an undefended Renz Gumban to coolly tuck in the ball into the goalmouth for the equalizer.
The first half wore on with FEU given corner kick and offensive chances but the score remained even stevens at one goal apiece at the break.
The second half started with a more contrasting approach from both sides as the Tamaraws applied more pressure and possession-style football while Santo Tomas soaked it up as they focus their threats towards dangerous swift counter attacks.
FEU tried to come up with several opportunities to take the lead, however, they just could not pry open UST’s disciplined backline.
The Tigers made the Tams pay for their inaccuracies in front of the goal as they notched the winner from a set piece as Dionisio Busmion’s free kick fortuitously found Tuzon after a chaotic scramble who made sure of the attempt in the 89th minute that will eventually prove the match winner in the end.
“Ang pinaka-mahalaga sa amin ay makuha yung three points,” shared a pleased Marjo Allado, given the current state of the race to the Final Four in which they are in a good position to clinch the final spot.
UST will next face La Salle which is their main rival in getting the last ticket to the semifinals on April 20.
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