By Earl Averilla
MANILA -- A tightly contested match went in UP's way as they defeat La Salle and strengthen their number 2 spot in the UAAP men's football table as the season goes into the stretch.
The match began with both teams employing a calculated approach. As the time wore on, it became a midfield battle where goals could be produced on defensive errors.
Indeed the first goal was notched by the champions with a gift from their opponent as a dangerous cross by Jeremiah Borlongan in the 16th minute was inadvertently headed by centre-half Nicko Villacin into his own net.
But La Salle was able to equalize six minutes later through an unstoppable Paeng Siggaoat penalty kick as a defensive lapse by Ian Clarino fouled the former Kaya Elite booter in the box.
Chances came at a premium for the rest of the half as the first forty-five minutes ended with one goal apiece.
The second half began with the same tone as the first. It was tactical but an exciting encounter as both teams do not want to let up in their back-line.
That all changed however in the 62nd minute as the Fighting Maroons were able to break down La Salle's defense unleashing Kintaro Miyagi from a give and go link-up who coolly slotted past Kerbi Almonte for the advantage.
The resulting lead gave UP the confidence to impose their style of play, dominating the proceedings from the midway of the half and getting a few good balls from the flanks.
DLSU almost equalized though when Jhoguev Ybanez took a risky shot from near the halfway line only to shatter the crossbar.
The Green Archers followed this up by pouring everything they've got for an equalizer to no avail as State U bag the win at the final whistle.
La Salle now will have its Final Four chances in a much harder state as UST leapfrogged them in fourth place with two matches left on their schedule.
Follow him on Twitter: @earlaverilla