RETURN TO GLORY | UP nips UST, wins UAAP men's football crown undefeated

UP players hug each other after winning the UAAP title as UST's Conrado Dimacali walks past them. Denver Lachica/Dugout Philippines
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- University of the Philippines made UAAP Football history anew after edging past UST by the slimmest of winning scorelines to take the title unbeaten in the final day of the 80th season on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

An early first-half strike by graduating centre-half Ian Clarino was the only difference as the Fighting Maroons of Anto Gonzales took their fourth title in the past seven years and the third at the expense of the Growling Tigers while ending the season on a 16-match unbeaten run.

With the title win, they recreated history six years ago, where they won back-to-back crowns while unbeaten in 22 straight matches combined, only drawn a total of six time during that stretch.

Clarino also took the Golden Ball as the season's best footballer, succeeding Ateneo's junior forward Jarvey Gayoso, who took his third consecutive Golden Boot after finding the net 15 times.

Fidel Tacardon was the league's best freshman, while UST's Zaldy Abraham edged out AJ Arcilla for the Golden Glove plum.

Tournament host La Salle bagged the Fair Play award with Jed Diamante adjudged as the league's best midfielder.

In a sibling rivalry that pitted Ian, Miguel and assistant gaffer Paolo against their Kuya Gino, it was the former who won it in the 21st minute when he converted Jeremiah Borlongan's free kick with a right-footed shot inside the box.

UP had numerous attempts to put the title away from UST at the restart, but Borlongan, Tacardon and Kintaro Miyagi had their shots not going past Abraham, who put up another good display between the sticks.

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