by Edison Ubaldo
Maroon striker Gerardo Valmayor needed just a minute of injury time to break away and find an opening for a goal just in time to lift University of the Philippines to a 2-1 escape against the De La Salle University Green Archers in the UAAP Season 75 Men’s Football Tournament Wednesday at the Ateneo pitch.
The Archers pulled an early surprise when they drew first blood in the sixth minute courtesy of Don Rabaya’s goal.
Down by one, Valmayor struck the equalizer in the 36th minute off a perfect cross from rookie Daniel Gaida.
With the referee declaring a 1-minute extension, the Southeast Asian Games U-23 standout broke away from his defenders and beat the goalkeeper for the game-winning goal.
“Couldn’t have done it without the help of my teammates,” tweeted Valmayor, who scored numerous game winners for UP this season.
The win enabled UP to overtake DLSU and force a tie at second with the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, who also finished with 25 points after closing the elimination round with a 2-0 win over Season 75 runner-up University of Santo Tomas.
A draw with La Salle could have given FEU the second spot and snatch a twice-to-beat advantage going into the semi-finals. FEU and UP will dispute the second spot on Sunday 2pm at Ocampo Field.
Ateneo secured the top spot after a 3-0 mastery of the National University Booters and will face DLSU in the final four.