MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ateneo de Manila University rallied from a goal down to break the hearts of De La Salle University, 2-1, in a thrilling final of the UAAP Season 81 men's football tournament on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The Green Archers appeared to be on their way to breaking a 21-year title drought, after rookie Mohammad Almohjili put them ahead in the 77th minute.
But Jarvey Gayoso produced some magic late to force extra time for Ateneo. From a Luke Alleje assist, Gayoso netted a remarkable goal – his 12th of the season – early in stoppage time to allow the Blue Eagles to level.
Alleje was once again a factor in the go-ahead goal, firing the cross that skipper Julian Roxas – one of three graduating Ateneo players -- headed in the 100th minute to give the Blue Eagles the lead.
It proved enough to secure Ateneo its second men's football title in three years, and its eighth overall.
Ateneo now also leads its men's football finals head-to-head vs La Salle, 3-2, with the Katipunan-based side taking the last two meetings.
Gayoso went on to earn MVP honors for the second time in his career, while also claiming a fourth consecutive Best Striker award.
AJ Arcilla, who produced key saves for the Eagles in extra time, was named the Best Goalkeeper, while the Rookie of the Year honors went to Shanden Vergara of the Archers.
De La Salle's Yoshi Koizumi and Jed Diamante bagged the Best Defender and Best Midfielder awards, respectively, while University of Santo Tomas won the Fair Play award.
Aside from Roxas, Rupert Baña and Jeremiah Rocha ended their UAAP careers as champions.
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