Match ratings: Philippines vs Yemen
The Philippine Azkals kept their scintillating form with a 2-0 drubbing of Yemen in their World Cup Qualifying clash at Qatar City Sports Club here. Misagh Bahadoran scored for the second straight game, while Iain Ramsay bagged his first in only his second appearance for the national side. The two goals were set up by the excellent Javier Patino whose quality came to the fore in another crucial game for the Azkals. It was a performances for the ages for the Azkals who have now racked up two straight victories against quality opposition.
They followed up the 2-1 conquest of Bahrain with another workmanlike display to topple Yemen, which is playing its home game here due to security reasons. Azkals coach Thomas Dooley made two changes to the side from the previous game. Luke Woodland, finally getting clearance from Fifa, slotted into the middle of a three-man backline, replacing Rob Gier, while Bahadoran replaced the injured Stephan Schrock on the right wing. Right from the onset, though, it was clear that the Azkals will dictate the play with the Yemenis only getting their chance on counter-attacks. Backed up by close to 5,000 Filipino fans, the Azkals carved out chance after chance in the first with no reward. Bahadoran was the most threatening player up front, his speed and trickery on the right flank allowing him to cause trouble inside the box. The first chance of the match saw Bahadoran race clear from a Patino through ball, only to lose control when the Bahraini keeper came out of his line to unsettle him. Ramsay and Palla did send a few crosses into the box for Patino, who could only send one free header wide. Phil Younghusband, now deployed into a deeper role at midfield, could only fire straight at the keeper as the Azkals struggled to break the deadlock.
But a moment of sheer brilliance from Bahadoran and aided by the clever play of Patino opened the scoring in the 53rd minute and eventually sent the Azkals on their way to a memorable victory. Patino showed a couple of lovely touches before setting up Ramsay inside the six yard box. The Azkals did have to deal with a couple of dangerous opportunities on the other end but there was hardly a sign that the game was out of their hands. Once again, Dooley had the Azkals clicking. They knocked the ball around with confidence and fought for every possession, which has become a hallmark of the Dooley regime.
Neil Etheridge 7.5 – The first clean sheet of the year for the Philippines No. 1. Dealt well with crosses and set pieces and was safe and assured when called into action. Was also involved in the second goal with his fine punt finding Patrick Reichelt and leading to the chance that Ramsay converted.
Daisuke Sato 8 – Another solid display from the leftback who coped well once again with several balls that lofted past his fellow defenders. Tracked the Yemeni striker each time the ball went in behind the defense and was hardly ruffled when Yemen pressed high.
Luke Woodland 7 – A fine debut for the 19-year-old who came in to replace Rob Gier. Missed a few defensive headers in the first half, but took a no-nonsense approach in the second half, while distributing excellently out of the back.
Jerry Lucena 7 – His experience once again proved immense when the Yemenis pressed, while showing a willingness to get forward.
Martin Steuble 7.5 – Linked up well with Bahadoran on the right and sent a few dangerous crosses into the box inside the box. Showed good strength, keeping the ball under pressure, helping the Azkals see the game out.
Phil Younghusband 6.5 – Battled valiantly to get the ball back each time he lost it and did well to keep the Azkals’ attack clicking. Wasn’t as influential as he was in the Bahrain game but nonetheless helped the Azkals dominate midfield.
Manny Ott 8 – Another technically gifted player who gave the Azkals the platform to threaten on attack. Forced a good save with a rocket from a tight angle late in the first half, but it was his vision and long-range passing that help wear down the Yemenis.
Stephan Palla 6 – Still finding his feet in the team. A few misplaced passes showed he was still adjusting with his teammates, but he contributed with a few dangerous crosses in the first half.
Misagh Bahadoran 8 – Tight games are usually decided by a moment of brilliance and it was Bahadoran who provided the flash of inspiration to break the deadlock for his second goal in as many games. His futsal background came in handy as he dazzled on the right wing with his pace and trickery. Took on defenders with supreme confidence, keeping them guessing. Combined brilliantly with Patino for the first goal with a terrific turn and left-footed shot to the top corner. Typified the Azkals workmanlike display.
Javier Patino 8 – Set up the two well-taken goals for the Azkals. Wasn’t his usual self in front of goal, but contributed immensely by holding up the play and getting teammates involved. Released Bahadoran with a well-weighted pass for the first chance three minutes into the game, before showing an elegant touch to torment his defender late on.
Iain Ramsay 7.5 – Once again came alive in the second half where he had two shots on goal – the other being second goal that wrapped up the game for the Azkals. Showed lovely feet in getting to the endline for crosses inside the area. Timed his run well to finish off Patino’s terrific low cross inside the six-yard box.
Patrick Reichelt 5.5 – Came in for Bahadoran, but missed a sitter that would have sealed the result earlier. Involved in the second goal, winning the header that released Patino on his way to setting up Ramsay.
Dennis Villanueva 5 – Solid debut. Safe and assured with his passing. Helped the Azkals control the game late on. CFC
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