Arellano stays on course for the NCAA Season 91 football title with win over CSB

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Jumbeng Guinabang celebrates his goal. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Thursday’s results:

Arellano 3:2 St. Benilde AET

San Beda 6:0 Lyceum

The Arellano Chiefs stayed perfect on Thursday and crept closer to the NCAA Season 91 football title. But it wasn’t easy.

The match looked headed for penalties, locked at 2-2 with just minutes to go in the second half of extra time. But Robert Corsame slipped a neat pass into the box that Ronald Espinosa expertly steered past Blazers shot-stopper Ronilo Bayan for the winner.

It was a perfect finish for a glorious, see-saw encounter of a game at Rizal Memorial.

Gaudin Maasin put the Blazers ahead in the tenth minute with a close-range tap-in.

James Ayuban scored one of the year’s more unusual goals two minutes later to level for AU. The Chiefs were granted an indirect free kick after Bayan was adjudged to have regathered a ball he had handled, then put on the ground. AU assistant Vel Saluria said afterwards he showed Ayuban two fingers, to make sure that the ball was kicked goalward on the second touch, as per FIFA’s laws on indirect free kicks.

Ayuban thought Saluria meant “second post.” From a few meters out he hoofed a ball directly past the wall and into the goal. Usually that goal would not have counted since an indirect free kick is supposed to be taken after a first touch to another player. But Bayan got a touch to the ball trying to stop it, so the score stood. Had Bayan let the ball go in, the goal would have been disallowed.

Minutes later SCB restored their lead with a fine goal off a neat interplay from striker John Barot.

But Benilde went down to ten men when centerback Jico Noel was sent off for a Denial of Obvious Goalscoring Opportunity foul on an Arellanite attacker. The Chiefs made the Blazers pay with a second equalizer nine minutes after the second-half restart. Jumbeng Guinabang controlled a gorgeous long diagonal pass from Robert Corsame then blasted past Bayan for 2-2.

There were chances aplenty for either team to win. Penalties looked inevitable until Espinosa’s dramatic winner.

In the other match of the day San Beda mauled Lyceum 6-0 to keep their championship hopes alive.

Championship Scenarios

Last Tuesday Arellano beat Lyceum 3-0 while Benilde topped the Red Lions 1-0. So here is how the four teams in the NCAA Final Four stack up with one more match to go in the round-robin second round.

Arellano – 2 wins, 0 losses, 6 points, +4 GD

San Beda – 1 win, 1 loss, 3 points, +5 GD

Benilde – 1 win 1 loss, 3 points LEVEL GD

Lyceum – 0 wins, 2 losses, 0 points, -9 GD

The last round of round-robin matches are on Saturday. Lyceum plays Benilde at 11:30 am while Beda and Arellano tussle after.

All second round games must be played until there is a winner, with extra time and penalties if needed. There can be no draws.

Arellano are waiting in Tuesday’s championship game by virtue of their winning the first round, via sweep, at that. They will face the winner of the second round. If AU also wins the second round, they are automatically champs and the Tuesday game will no longer be played. So in effect Arellano is twice-to-beat. If they win one of the games on Saturday or Tuesday, they lift the trophy.

Lyceum are eliminated. If Benilde beats the Pirates then they go to six points and could win the second round and book a finals berth. But they may need to run up the score against the Pirates because they can only win with a healthy GD and a narrow Beda win over the Chiefs.

So its simple. Benilde has to win and ideally win big. A loss and Saturday’s second game is the first of a twice-to-beat two game series between the Lions and the Chiefs.

San Beda must win or they surrender the NCAA football title.

Arellano will go for a win and a sweep. A loss means they get another bite of the cherry on Tuesday.

Try and catch the games on Saturday in Rizal Memorial at 11:30 am. The Juniors Final Four matches begin at 7:30 am, with La Salle Greenhills, St. Benilde’s junior squad, gunning for a sweep of their own.

Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH

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