Ateneo de Manila University stretched its unbeaten start to six games after stunning defending champion University of the Philippines (UP), 1-0, in Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s football tournament at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Sunday.
Rookie midfielder Mario Ceniza secured the deciding goal after sending the ball to the back of the net off a rebound in the 71st minute and the Blue Eagles tightened their hold of the top spot with full 18 points and handed the Fighting Maroons their first loss of the tournament.
Both teams started slow but Ateneo came out after the break with better energy led by its star forward Javier Gayoso.
Gayoso became instrumental in the surge of the booters from Katipunan as his cross was not properly cleared by the UP defense, falling to Ceniza who tapped the ball at the bottom corner to draw the first blood.
UP’s sophomore striker JB Borlongan tried to tie the game but his shot from long range in the 76th minute sailed wide.
The league-leading Ateneo will be on a long break as its next assignment is on March 9 against former champion Far Eastern University.
The Diliman-based booters dropped to 3-1-1 (win-draw-loss) and will meet the Tamaraws on March 2.