A RESOLUTE Far Eastern University outlasted De La Salle in extra time, 3-2, for a successful defense of the UAAP men’s football championship on Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Tamaraws bucked an early deficit then showed championship poise in the extra session where they refused to budge despite going two men down to emerge as the titlists for the second straight year.
It was a triple celebration for the Morayta-based booters, whose women’s and juniors’ counterparts also bagged back-to-back titles in their divisions following victories against University of the Philippines and Ateneo, respectively.
Paolo Bugas fired the winner in the first half of extra time, but Jhan Jhan Melliza forced extension with a strike late in the second half to be adjudged as the MVP, while Erig Giganto sparked the comeback with his own goal for FEU.
The Green Booters’ first loss of the season couldn’t have come at a worse time as they failed to win their first title since they won two straight in 1998.
For a while, though, La Salle looked poised to break the title drought as it sat in the driver’s seat following the 59th-minute goal by Gio Diamanete, who was booked with a yellow card after removing his jersey during his celebration.
Although Giganto equalized for FEU in the 72nd off the rebound, Sabin Bustamante put the Green Booters ahead anew in the 81st.
Melliza, however, knotted the count once again just two minutes later off Giganto that set the stage for a thrilling finish.
The Tamaraws could’ve avoided extra time, but the officials denied them a penalty strike after a clear foul in stoppage time.
Nevertheless, Bugas, the 2014 MVP and a Global FC midfielder, struck the marginal goal in the 94th, before the Tamaraws parked the bus after Nicolas Ferrer and Arnel Amita were sent off in the second half of extra time.