By Raphael Rayco
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons minus team captain Jinggoy Valmayor fell to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 4-1, in Game 1 of the UAAP Men’s Football Finals held at FEU Diliman in Quezon City.
Jacob Ochoa wore the captain’s armband for UP in the absence of Valmayor, the league’s leading scorer, due to a two-game ban from a red card in their semi-finals matchup against the University of Santo Tomas.
The Tamaraws pulled ahead early with a goal in the sixth minute via lowball by Arnel Amita from a scramble inside the box.
Maroon striker Carlos Monfort sorely missed an attempt in the 59th minute when his shot went over the post in what could have been an equalizer.
The FEU Men’s team seemed on their way to a Game 1 victory before a Michael Simms corner kick led to a left header by Monfort in the 89th minute to force extension.
But the Diliman-based squad looked exhausted in extra time committing error after error leading to numerous attempts on goal by FEU.
Nigerian Joshua Molero finally found the back of the net in the 101th minute converting on a follow up shot off a block from Maroon Keeper Ace Villanueva helping FEU take the lead 2-1.
Midfielder Harold Alcoreza then scored another goal 14 minutes later to give FEU a commanding 3-1 lead.
Jess Melliza then put the icing on the cake with a goal in the 120th minute to seal the win for FEU.
The Fighting Maroons will again face FEU without their captain in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals series on Sunday, February 23 at the FEU-Diliman Football Field.