Defending champions University of the Philippines successfully secured a Final Four spot after defeating University of the East, 3-0, in the final matchday of the elimination round of the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Tournament, Thursday morning at the FEU Diliman Football Field in Quezon City.
The Fighting Maroons came into their final elimination round assignment looking to give themselves a shot at potentially finishing with the second seed.
Kyle Magdato was on point early in the match as he made good on a pass from JB Borlongan to give UP the lead in the 40th minute.
Magdato wasn't done however, as he doubled his output and the Fighting Maroons lead in the second half, getting the high volley to go in in the 50th minute.
Daniel Saavedra put the finishing touches with a 66th-minute goal of his own to seal the victory.
"That was the main goal. First is to take the three points, at the least, one point," said UP head coach Anto Gonzales about returning to the post-season. "At least that's in the bag, and we can focus on preparing for the semifinals."
Gonzales was not fully pleased with his team's performance however, once again noting that they started slow.
"Performance-wise, this wasn't our best performance, UE started the game very well, we were flat again, and one of the main objectives for this game was to start strong and aggressive, which we haven't been doing in a lot of our games, we're always in the back foot, and then that's when we turn things around."
"We didn't achieve that today, so that's somethign that has to be worked on continuously. We have one week to prepare for that," he added.
With the win, UP finishes with 26 points coming off 8 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses. They lock up a semis spot and can potentially finish with the 2-seed if FEU, currently at 24 points as of press time, ends the season with a draw or a loss to DLSU.
UE, meanwhile, ends the season with 9 points off 2 wins, 3 draws, and 9 losses.