Azkals escape with thrilling 4-3 victory over Tajikistan
MANILA, Philippines – The Azkals turned on the firepower to claim a vital road win in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Tuesday night, June 13.
The 4-3 goalfest featured two goals from Javier Patiño, and one apiece from Phil Younghusband and Daisuke Sato. The 3 points keep the Philippines atop Group F in AFC Asian Cup qualifying with a maximum 6 points from 2 games.
Coach Thomas Dooley made 3 changes to the side that was walloped 8-1 by China last week. Dennis Villanueva came in for Luke Woodland at center back, Javi Patiño took Misagh Bahadoran's spot in attack and Kevin Ingreso slotted in at holding midfield in place of James Younghusband who suffered a knee sprain against China.
The Philippines thought they had gone ahead in the 23rd minute when Mike Ott found the back of the net. But the large crowd at the Republican Central Stadium in the Tajik capital were relieved to see the referee nullify the goal for offside, despite replays showing that Ott seemed to be onside. Ott was booked for dissent on the play.
Two minutes later Philippines keeper Pat Deyto made a fine reaction save to keep the game scoreless.
But two minutes before the half-hour the Philippines broke the ice. Patiño won a foul outside the penalty box and that led to Phil Younghusband's magnificent opener, a free kick that curved over the wall and had enough power to beat Tajik goalie Abduaziz Makhkamov.
Four minutes from the halftime whistle the Pinoys doubled their lead after Mike Ott slithered in a neat through-ball to Patiño who finished clinically.
The match looked over 3 minutes into the second half when the younger Ott, (Manny Ott, Mike's brother, also started), fed Patiño again with another perfectly-weighted delivery. The Fil-Spaniard rounded the keeper and tucked the ball into the goal for 3-0.
But that setback seemed to awaken the home side and 5 minutes later they were rewarded with a penalty when Jahongir Aliev collapsed rather easily in the box on a light tap from Amani Aguinaldo.
Parvizjon Umarbaev blasted past Deyto on the ensuing penalty for 3-1.
The partisan crowd erupted just 4 minutes later when a Junior Muñoz error lead to a Tajikistan jailbreak that Dilshod Vosiev completed with a fine finish for 3-2.
Seven minutes later Patiño came agonizingly close to a hat trick but his attempt to poke in a lovely Iain Ramsay cross glanced wide.
Two minutes later Tajikistan nearly leveled when Davronjon Ergashev hit the far post on a free kick.
But 11 minutes from time Daisuke Sato delivered a righteous left-footed strike from the flank that restored the two-goal cushion for the Philippines.
A gritty Tajik team got a third from Manucher Dzhalilov off a breakaway in the 89th to set up a nervy stoppage time period. But the Azkals held on for the win.
Coupled with Yemen's surprising 0-0 standoff against Nepal in Kathmandu earlier on Tuesday, the Philippines are in command of Group F with 6 points, two clear of the Yemenis. Nepal is on one point and Tajikistan, who lost to Yemen in the first matchday, are without a point.
The result helps ease the pain from the team's heavy defeat to China last week and gives the side momentum heading to their next qualifier against Yemen in Panaad Stadium in Bacolod on September 5. – Rappler.com
Correction: A previous version of this report stated that the Philippines is 3 points clear of Yemen. The Philippines is two clear.