University of Santo Tomas kept their Final Four hopes alive after picking up a crucial 2-1 win over Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Tournament, Thursday morning at the FEU Diliman Football Field in Quezon City.
The Growling Tigers were on the outside of the playoff picture looking in heading into Thursday's rematch with the Katipunan-based side and were coming off a devastating loss to Adamson prior to the Holy Week break. A second straight loss would have been devastating for the Season 80 runners-up.
Rookie Glen Ramos gave the UST the advantage heading into halftime with a 43rd minute conversion.
Looking to avoid their first second round loss, the Blue Eagles managed to pull even thanks to an equalizer from skipper Julian Roxas in the 73rd minute.
Substitute AJ Pasion provided a much-needed offensive boost from off the bench, as the striker slotted in what would be the deciding goal in the 78th minute to push UST back ahead by a goal.
Ateneo searched for another equalizer but could not produce one this time around.
"Last time, napahiya kami sa Ateneo, yung 5-0, so yun yung motivation kanina sa players, na kung pwede, bumawi naman tayo kasi yun yung ticket niyo for the top four, in case anong mangyari sa standings," shared UST head coach Marjo Allado after the match, referencing their devastating loss to the Blue Eagles during the first round of the tournament. "Wala masiyadong instructions, yun lang, motivate lang sila, pero pinaka-maganda kasi good win siya sa amin ngayon eh."
With the win, the Growling Tigers sneak into the fourth spot with 20 points off 5 wins, 5 draws, and three losses. They jump ahead of De La Salle University, who currently sits at 19 points and are set to play National University later this afternoon.
Ateneo meanwhile, still remains at second place with 23 points off 7 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses. The Blue Eagles have more or less locked up their spot in the top four.