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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine men’s national football team is AFC Challenge Cup finals bound after a 3-2 victory over Maldives in the early hours of Wednesday, May 28 in Male’, Maldives.
With both teams tied in extra time, Chris Greatwich once again displayed his clutch heroics, coming on as a substitution to score the go-ahead goal in the 104th minute of play. The goal, which was the 10-year Azkal veteran’s seventh international score, was reminiscent of Greatwich’s deciding goal against Vietnam in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.
The Azkals will now face Palestine at midnight on Friday, May 30 with the winner to earn a spot in the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. Palestine defeated Afghanistan earlier in the day by a 2-0 tally.
Phil Younghusband opened the scoreline after he turned and shoot in the 19th minute. The Azkals’ superb play and passing had left Maldives banking mostly on counter plays, paying dividends as Mohammad Umair scored an equalizer in the 36th minute. Just 3 minutes after, Jerry Lucena scored his first goal for the national inside the box after a Patrick Reichelt miss bounced right in front of him.
Maldives wasn’t going down without a fight, with Asadullah Abdhulla scoring another equalizer in the 66th minute. The game went to 30 minutes of extra time.
Azkals keeper Roland Muller also had his hands full, pulling important saves from a penalty kick and a straight shot at goal from Abdhulla in the 93rd minute.
The Philippines had 21 attempts compared to 12 from Maldives, while edging the host nation 8-7 in on target shots. Maldives earned 4 yellow cards compared to 3 for the Philippines.
The Philippines last played Palestine in 2012, defeating them 4-3 to earn third place in that edition of the Challenge Cup. – Rappler.com