MANILA, Philippines – The undermanned Philippine Azkals rode on their opening win momentum to escape cellar-dweller Timor Leste, 3-2, in the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup on Saturday, November 17 at the Kuala Lumpur Stadium in Malaysia.
The Philippines goes up to the 2nd place in Group B with 6 points and a +2 goal difference, but the Azkals are still behind Southeast Asian powerhouse Thailand, which they're facing on Wednesday, November 21 at the Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod.
The Azkals were short of 3 key players – Neil Etheridge, Manny Ott and Luke Woodland – due to injury.
Etheridge is suffering from a right quad strain and opted to rest before heading back to Cardiff City as the FIFA international break comes to an end.
Midfielder Manny Ott and centerback Luke Woodland sustained injuries from the opening game against Singapore. Ott sat out of the game due to a pinched nerve on his foot while Woodland is out of the biennial cup tournament due to a foot injury.
After the first 25 minutes of lethargic play, Phil Younghusband opened the scoreline in the 27th minute, with a shot off an assist from Daisuke Sato for his 52nd international goal for the Philippines.
Six minutes later, Martin Steuble followed up with a goal off a setpiece from beyond the box to double the Philippines' lead.
The Philippines managed to triple the lead thanks to a Kevin Ingreso pass to defender Carlie de Murga, who headed the ball into the back of the net in the 67th minute.
But Timor Leste caught fire after Paul Mulders conceded a penalty in the 73rd minute that allowed Nataniel De Jesus Reis to stain the Philippines' clean sheet in the tournament.
Two minutes later, Joao Pedro Freitas broke away off the counterattack and went one-on-one with Michael Falkesgaard who moved out of line, but the Timorese managed to get past the keeper and cut the deficit to one goal, 2-3.
Timor Leste attempted to equalize and complete its comeback, but Falkesgaard made a crucial save for the Philippines to keep its 3 points. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.