Gio Pabualan and Sherwin Basindanan each scored a goal, leading third-ranked Far Eastern University to a 2-0 victory over second-ranked De La Salle University, securing their spot in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Finals on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
“I think we did enough. At some point in the second half, I think La Salle did their part and also put some pressure. We made some adjustments, and I think we ended strongly,” said coach Vince Santos.
Pabualan broke the deadlock for the Tamaraws in the 28th minute with a fantastic free kick, awarded after a mistake by Green Booters goalie Mig Brosoto.
Basindanan then sealed the win in the 85th minute with a clinical strike past La Salle substitute goalkeeper Enrico Mangaoang, following a fine passage of play in the 86th minute.
With this win, the Tamaraws have swept the Green Booters this season, having won 2-1 with 10 men on February 26 and 3-0 on April 23.
Now, the Tamaraws have a chance to end an eight-year title drought since their victory over the Green Booters in the 2015 Final. They will face the winner of the other Final Four duel between top-ranked Ateneo and fourth-seeded UST next Thursday at 5 p.m. in a one-match championship.
The Tamaraws last reached the finals in Season 79, where they lost to the Blue Eagles, 0-1.
“This whole season has been really tight. We don’t expect anything to change. Each of these teams can win today, so we’ll prepare when we know,” said Santos.
On the other hand, La Salle secured a third-place finish this season.
It proved to be a frustrating match for the Green Booters as players like Mikio Umilin, Isaac Anoh, and Manu Cruel had good attempts at goal, but they failed to find the back of the net.