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Gelo Diamante hits game-winner as La Salle escapes Ateneo

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--He may still not be 100 percent, but Gelo Diamante became the surprise package La Salle needed to save its season against gritty Ateneo.

Diamante, who played despite the pain from his broken clavicle, scored the go-ahead goal in the 88th minute as the Green Booters booked the first UAAP men's football final seat with a 1-0 win against the Blue Eagles at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Sunday.

Coach Hans Smit pulled the huge gamble by putting in Diamante for his brother Gio in the 76th minute, but it paid dividends as Gelo saw an opening and struck the dagger at the top corner of the net, rocking the La Salle crowd.

The goal saved the Green Booters from a gallant fight by Blue Eagles, who played without striker Mikko Mabanag.

Even with Mabanag suspended for reaching the yellow card limit, Ateneo played toe-to-toe with La Salle for almost the entire match.

But Diamante's goal made the difference as the Blue Eagles failed to threaten in the final minutes.

The Green Booters will await the winner of the match between the FEU Tamaraws and the UP Fighting Maroons, which is playing as of press time.