Jumbel Guinabang's second goal late in extra time powered Arellano University past College of Saint Benilde 3-2 in Match 1 of their best-of-3 finals at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium Friday night.
The action was frantic in the first half, with Guinabang striking first in just 2 minutes of action to give the Chiefs an early lead.
It didn’t take long for Saint Benilde to pull even, as Daniel Lozio found the equalizer a minute later.
Arellano regained the lead in the 25th, with Charles Gamutan beating two defenders then shaking off Blazers keeper Jake Vicen for the 2-1 lead.
Once again, the equalizer came quick for Benilde, as skipper Renz Tulayba fired from just outside the box to make it 2-2.
As high scoring as the first half was, the second half was the exact opposite, as neither side managed a conversion, forcing an extra 30 minutes of action.
With 3 minutes to go in extra time and a penalty shootout looming, Guinabang came up with the last-minute conversion to put the Chiefs up 3-2.
Benilde pushed the action in the remaining minutes of extra time, but could not come up with a third equalizer, giving the Chiefs a hard-fought win.
"Sobrang saya po, para sa akin, lalo na para sa team namin." Guinabang told ABS-CBN Sports following the grueling 120-minute match.
"Nakita niyo naman po kung ano iyong nangyari sa laro namin. Nagkaisa kami, hindi po namin inisip na sumuko, kahit na marami nang nagka-cramps sa mga kasama ko, kahit ako po. Pero hindi ko po inisip na gumive-up."
Arellano now finds itself a win away from a second title in 3 years.
"Nakakakaba pa rin po siyempre, pero nandoon na rin po iyong excitement na makuha iyong champion ngayon." Guinabang said.
Still, the Chiefs will need to take care of business against a Blazers squad who'll be looking to bounce back and extend the series.
Benilde will try to even things up in Match 2 also at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Monday. Kick-off is at 6 p.m.
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