Azkals survive late scare, escape Fiji in friendly
Philippine Azkals topped Fiji, 3-2, in their international friendly Thursday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium, but not without a late scare as errors nearly proved costly for the home team.
Phil Younghusband converted a penalty at the 29th minute to break the ice and set the tone for the home squad as they were the clear aggressors from the get-go.
The Azkals were awarded the penalty after Kolinio Vakauravanua Sivoki bumped Misagh Bahadoran inside the box to give the Philippines the chance.
Younghusband would then seize the opportunity, nabbing his 49th international goal and further establishing himself as the nation’s best goal scorer.
Pika Minegishi doubled the Philippines’ lead with a low shot from outside the box in the 53rd minute, before Kevin Ingreso quickly followed suit, sending the ball to the back of the net in yhe 61st minute off of a deflection from Fijian defender Epili Leiroti to give the home squad a 3-0 lead.
But that was when things took a turn for the worst.
Ame Votoniu chalked one in for Fiji after substitute keeper Nick O’Donnell failed to clear the ball in the 74th minute.
O’Donnell once again committed a costly tackle on Roy Krishna in the 80th minute, earning a yellow card which led to the Fijian striker scoring off a penalty kick to inch the visiting team closer, 3-2.
But the Philippine defense did just enough to hold on to the victory as the Azkals turn their attention to their all-important duel against Tajikistan on Tuesday, with a spot for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates next year up for grabs.
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