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Ateneo survives late UST scare, returns to men's football final

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Jarvey Gayoso extended his lead in the Golden Boot race as Ateneo marches on to their third final in the last five years.
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--Top seed Ateneo De Manila punched its first ticket to the UAAP Men's Football final, but not surviving a second-half onslaught by Sto. Tomas in the first of the Final Four doubleheader on a hot Thursday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial.

Showing their all-around play that made them the top team at the end of the regular season, the Blue Eagles swooped down on the Growling Tigers in the first 45 minutes, but they were made to sweat on the defensive end by the pesky Tigers at the restart for a workmanlike 2-1 win.

Jarvey Gayoso's first half brace was instrumental for Ateneo to march on to Sunday's final as he cemented his hold on the lead for the Golden Boot, hiking his tally to 11 for the season.

The sophomore striker scored the match's first just 21 minutes in when he converted on Enzo Ceniza's trap-busting through ball and zoomed past Zaldy Abraham with his trademark left foot.

Gayoso made it 2-0 a minute before halftime when he left the UST backline for dead again and slotted the ball low with his weaker right foot.

But UST made the match interesting at the restart, pulling one back in the 54th minute as Marvin Jake Bricenio converted on a Darwin Busmion free kick in the empty net.

However, the season hosts could not find the ball at the back of the net for the second time as AJ Arcilla and the Ateneo backline locked the goalframe the rest of the way to appear in consecutive title matches for the first time since 2006 where they completed a three-peat.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada