Asian football

Marañon hat trick fires Azkals past Myanmar, ends Suzuki Cup stint

Juro Morilla
Marañon hat trick fires Azkals past Myanmar, ends Suzuki Cup stint

HAT-TRICK HERO. Bienvenido Marau00f1on takes control of the Azkals offense.

Darshan Mehta/Philippine Football Federation

The Philippine Azkals claim third place in Group A of the delayed regional biennial tournament

MANILA, Philippines – Despite missing out on a semifinal appearance for the first time since 2016, the Philippine Azkals were able to close their AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 campaign on a positive note as they triumphed over Myanmar, 3-2, on Saturday, December 18, at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore.

Hat-trick hero Bienvenido Marañon picked up his first goal of the match after Yrick Gallantes failed to connect with Daisuke Sato’s cross. Marañon collected the free ball inside the penalty box and calmly drilled it past the goalkeeper and two defenders who were guarding the goal.

The striker’s second goal at the 19th minute was an absolute beauty after volleying Iain Ramsay’s cross straight into the top left corner of the goal.

Marañon then completed his hat trick with a diving header at the 45′ mark, with Patrick Reichelt claiming the assist. 

59th minute substitute Htet Phyoe Wai provided a lifeline for Myanmar after tapping in fellow substitute Aung Kung Wai’s cross at the 74th minute. It came off a brilliant team move as the Burmese punished the Azkals with a swift counterattack.

Wai completed his brace at the 86′ mark with a well-taken left-footed strike near the penalty spot. It came off yet another counterattack as Lwin Moe Aung started the play by taking advantage of Sandro Reyes’ mistake near the halfway line.

It was the last goal that was scored in the match as the Philippines held on to a narrow 3-2 victory.

After playing four matches in 10 days, the Azkals produced two wins and two losses to end up in third place of a five-team group. They grabbed six points and earned a +6 goal difference, but it wasn’t enough as both Thailand and tournament hosts Singapore finished way ahead of the Philippines.

Thailand clinched the first seed after beating Singapore with a 2-0 scoreline. The former completed a group stage sweep with four victories and a maximum of 12 points, while the latter earned 9 points with a +4 goal difference.

Myanmar, meanwhile, remained at fourth place following their latest defeat. Their only triumph came against bottom-dwellers Timor Leste, who concluded their stint in the Suzuki Cup earlier this week without scoring a goal and obtaining a win.

Head coach Stewart Hall revered back to a 4-2-3-1 formation after deploying a back-three against an in-form Thailand squad in their last match.

Recently naturalized striker Marañon returned to the starting lineup, while Yrick Gallantes and Oskari Kekkonen received their first starts of the tournament. 

Team captain Stephan Schröck missed out on the team’s final match of the Suzuki Cup 2020 after leaving the country to be with his heavily pregnant wife. 

Philippines started extremely well as youngster Gallantes nearly snatched his first goal just before the 13th minute after poking home the ball after Myanmar goalkeeper Myo Min Latt parried away Marañon’s header off a pinpoint cross by Iain Ramsay.

Unfortunately for him, the offside flag already went up after the Marañon made contact with the ball. 

Ten minutes later, Marañon’s right-footed shot near the center of the penalty box went wide. His appeal for a handball fell on deaf ears as referee Mohammed Khled S Al Holsh ordered for a goal kick instead.

Myanmar caught the Philippines napping at the 32′ mark, but their quick play off a free kick did not result in a goal as Azkals goalkeeper Kevin Hansen was alert enough to prevent a goal.

The Burmese continued to push for a goal before halftime as David Htan tried to produce a chance each for Than Paing and team captain Mg Mg Lwin in the next couple of minutes, but the receiving duo were called offside.

At the 38th minute, Hein Helt Aung delivered a fantastic cross for Suan Lam Mang, but his right-footed shot near the post went just too high as the score remained at 3-0 heading into halftime.

Marañon and Jesper Nyholm each had a chance in the early stages of the second half to put the Azkals up 4-0, but their headers were off the mark and blocked respectively.

The Burmese then started to dominate the Philippines after Wai got his first goal of the match. Myanmar had the belief it could turn the game around and Hall responded by sending out four veteran players to see off the match.

Angel Guirado substituted Ramsay, while Mike Ott, Amani Aguinaldo, and Amin Nazari all came in to replace Marañon, Martin Steuble, and Kevin Ingreso.

The four weren’t able to make a huge impact though as Myanmar quickly scored their second goal.

Nyein Chan almost had the equalizer in stoppage time, but his header was a bit off to the right. 

Both the Philippines and Myanmar had nothing to play for, but they still managed to give the fans an entertaining game to watch on a rainy Saturday evening. 

The final match day of the group stage round will happen Sunday, December 19, as Vietnam plays Cambodia at 8:30 pm, and Malaysia against Indonesia immediately after. 

Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia are still in the mix for a top two spot in Group B with Indonesia and Vietnam each having 7 points, while Malaysia is just behind with 6 points.