Rookies take over as Ateneo flies past UE for fifth straight win in UAAP menís football

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Not even a lackluster second half could derail Ateneo de Manila as they improved to a league-best 5-0-0 standing after defeating University of the East, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at the FEU-Fern Football Field in FEU Diliman. 

The red-hot Blue Eagles got to work early in the first half of play, with rookie Mario Ceniza finding the opening goal in the 16th minute. 

Rookie Sam Lim thrilled the Ateneo faithful in attendance late in the first half, converting via a well-timed bicycle kick from a Jarvey Gayoso pass to put the eagles ahead by two goals. 

Nine minutes later, another rookie would add to the Ateneo advantage, as Jordan Jarvis put in a header to make it a 3-0 lead heading into the midgame break. 

Gayoso, who was dealing with some hamstring issues, sat out the second half, and with the Blue Eagles’ primary offensive option missing, the Red Warriors tried to take advantage by pressing the action. 

Lapses in during the second half would nearly prove costly for the Blue Eagles, as UE managed to pull one back in the 71st minute courtesy of Bon Opeña to cut the lead to two. 

UE wasn’t able to complete the comeback, and Ateneo, despite the number of good chances from Rupert Baña, couldn’t add on to their advantage, and the score stood at 3-1 in favor of the Katipunan side. 

“Maganda yung laro nung first half, si Sam Lim nag-step up, sa second half medyo disappointed ako sa subs ko, hindi talaga nagperform,” Ateneo head coach JP Merida said, commenting on his team’s poor second half performance. “Siguro because this is the first time sila na nakalaro sa UAAP.” 

“Nung naka-score yung UE medyo kinabahan ako, siguro naging kampante, ang naging focus kasi is to give lahat nung hindi pa nakaka-laro,” Merida added. 

The Blue Eagles improve to five wins in as many games, and they remain at the top of the standings with 15 points. 

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