MANILA, Philippines—It was a loss that felt more like a win for Philippine football.
The Azkals Alyansa bowed to a more cohesive and disciplined Internacionale de Madrid side, 1-3, Saturday night in a charity game that lured a crowd of 8,000 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Proceeds of the match dubbed “Dili ka nag-iisa” will go to relief efforts for the victims of Tropical Storm Sendong in Mindanao and for goal scorer James Younghusband, that was already enough.
“I’m glad to get the goal, but for me just being part of this game is already special,” he said.
At halftime, CF Madrid officials turned over a check for 10,000 euros to the Philippine National Red Cross chair Sen. Richard Gordon. The stadium observed a minute of silence for the victims before the game and the crowd sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the 1943 Broadway musical Carousel dedicated to the victims.
Younghusband scored the only goal for the Azkals—a header from a cross from Chieffy Caligdong—in the 62nd minute, but by that time, the Spanish Tercera division side had already settled the outcome after going 3-nil up a minute into the second half.
Rufo Sanchez put CF Madrid ahead with a 15th minute penalty after Eduard Sacapano clipped Daniel Garcia Fernandez inside the box.
Fernandez doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with a curling strike from just inside the box. A quick counterattack a minute into the second half saw Ignacio Feijoo make it 3-nil with a well-taken strike from close range.
While several players from the United Football League were in the squad, Azkals Alyansa coach Edwin Cabalida opted to field a starting lineup made up of national players.
But the Azkals were a shadow of the fearsome side that won five matches last year, struggling to keep up with the pace and enterprising play of the Spanish side, which continuously created chances in the opening half.
“The fitness level was very low. The passing and combination play wasn’t there, but the team improved in the second half,” said Cabalida.
The Azkals are preparing for the AFC Challenge Cup in March and Cabalida said the match showed there was plenty of work to be done on the team to become competitive in the tournament.
“It was a tough game and we played a very good team which makes this trip worth it,” said CF Madrid coach Javier Garcia Marquez.
A swift three-pass combination from the backline allowed Fernandez to run past Anton Del Rosario, forcing Sacapano to go out of his line.
The Azkals found difficulty to break down the Spanish side with Ian Araneta limited to long-range efforts and Phil Younghusband managing just a tame shot in the 10th minute.