BACOLOD CITY - A shorthanded Cavite side slipped past Bukidnon, 2-1, Wednesday to forge a semifinal showdown with host Negros Occidental in the PFF Smart Under-22 Amateur Football Championship at Panaad Stadium here.
Missing key players due to suspension, the Caviteños needed goals from Spencer Galasa and Ronald Espinosa in the second half to overcome a Bukidnon side that constantly threatened on the counter-attack.
“I’m glad the players responded to the challenge,” said Cavite coach Ravelo Saluria in Filipino. “Our main strikers did not play and we had to improvise in the second half, but I’m happy everything turned out well since Bukidnon is a strong team.”
Misamis Occidental also clinched a place in the semifinals after a 4-0 rout of Cordillera at North Field in Talisay City.
The Misamis booters scored all four goals inside the final 10 minutes as they advanced to the Final Four opposite powerhouse Davao, which waylaid Camarines Norte, 10-0, in another quarterfinal duel.
Just when it looked like the match was headed to extra time, Paul Salahit found the back of the net for Misamis in the 82nd minute, setting off a barrage of goals capped by Kens Dimagna-ong’s injury-time strike.
Reymart Pepania pounced on a deflated Cordillera defense to double the advantage two minutes after Salahit scored before Ericson Tabaranza sealed the rout with another close-range strike.
After a dull first half which saw both teams hardly creating any clear-cut scoring opportunities, Cavite took the lead two minutes after the restart when the 17-year-old Galasa fired a right-footed volley from just outside the box.
But Bukidnon equalized a minute later with Philip Cesar Palamine tapping home from close range after a goalkeeper error.
Espinosa, a sophomore at Arellano U, who hails from Santa Barbara, Iloilo, broke the deadlock again in the 67th minute with a powerful strike at the edge of the penalty box, sending the Cavitenos to a semifinal collision with the Negrenses, who overwhelmed North Cotabato, 3-0, last Wednesday.