ATENEO held its ground in the face of a strong start from defending champion University of the Philippines before stealing the match in the second half to eke out a 1-0 victory in the UAAP Season 79 men's football tournament on Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Mario Ceniza scored the match winner in the 70th minute as the Blue Eagles claimed all three points to improve to 18 points with a game to spare in the first round.
The rookie midfielder took advantage of a scramble after UP keeper Ace Villanueva parried away Jarvey Gayoso's cross.
That save could only go too far as Ceniza was quick to the scramble before sending a missile from the top of the box for the lone goal of the game.
It was an unfortunate result for the Fighting Maroons after dominating the first half and getting the lion's share of the attempts early in the match.
The UP trio of Kyle Magdato, Miggy Clarino and Kintaro Miyagi all tested AJ Arcilla but the Ateneo keeper proved to be steady amid the early UP blitz.
The defeat kept UP at third place after five games with 10 points.
Ateneo gets an 11-day break before wrapping up its first round campaign against the also unbeaten Far Eastern University.