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MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines makes the Suzuki Cup semi-finals.
Phil Younghusband and Angel Guirado saved the day for the Azkals, lifting the Philippines to a 2-0 victory over Myanmar in their do-or-die match Friday, November 30.
Because of the win, the Azkals booked their second semi-finals slot in a row at the prestigious tournament.
The game's first goal came in the 47th minute, when Jason de Jong chipped a ball to Younghusband, who blasted the ball with his left foot and onto the bottom right of the net despite being marked by two defenders to open the second half.
Substitute Angel Guirado sealed the the victory for the team on the 93rd minute, off a long pass from defender Carli de Murga. Guirado, alone on top, took advantage of the ball and outran his defender, shooting the ball past Myanmar keeper Thiha Si Tu.
The Philippines and Thailand - which defeated Vietnam 3-1 in a simultaneous game - advance to the next stage from Group A.
This is the first time the Philippines has ever defeated Myanmar.
The first half saw a Philippine team performing under par, far from their dynamic intensity against Vietnam, which they won 1-0.
Younghusband had several attempts from long range, but all went straight to the hands of the Myanmar keeper.
Myanmar was impressive when the game opened, with several dangerous crosses throughout the first 45 minutes but all were denied either by the Azkals defense or goalkeeper Ed Sacapano.
The tides changed however, in the second half.
The Azkals came out with renewed energy after halftime, and was boosted by the early goal of Younghusband. Myanmar stayed aggressive throughout the match with consecutive attempts, but they were all foiled by the Azkals backline.
Despite Myanmar's relentless attack however, the White Angels just could not find the back of the net.
Semis in Manila
The first leg of the semi-finals will be held at Rizal Memorial Stadium on December 8, while the second leg will take place on December 12 at the opponent's country in accordance with the tournament's home-and-away format.
Much of the Philippine team stayed intact for the Myanmar game, except for a few changes from previous games.
Midfielder Jerry Lucena, who started in both of the Azkals' first two games, returned to his Danish football club. Additionally, important defender Ray Jonsson was replaced by Carli de Murga in the starting lineup, as the former nursed an injury.
Because of the victory, the Philippines ended the group stage with 6 points, second only to Thailand which won all their games and had 9 points. The Philippines lost their first game to Thailand, 2-1.
Both Vietnam and Myanmar ended with one point each after losing two games, and drawing each other. - Rappler.com