Etheridge saves Azkals vs Kyrgystan
TRAVEL-WEARY and missing key players, the Philippine Azkals leaned on the heroics of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, while mustering enough quality in front of goal to hammer out a famous away victory at the expense of higher-ranked Kyrgyzstan, 2-1, in a friendly Tuesday night in Bishkek.
Etheridge produced a couple of quality stops in the first half, before saving a late penalty to preserve the win for a Philippine side that was playing its first full international since winning over North Korea last March.
The match kicked off the Azkals’ preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November. Misagh Bahadoran kept his fine form, finishing off a swift counterattack in the second half, while Kevin Ingreso scored his first international goal as the Azkals showed plenty of defensive steel to fend off the home side ranked 29 places ahead of the Azkals at No. 105.
“The team played well, we attacked and defended under some extreme pressure,” said Etheridge.
The Azkals, who traveled close to 27 hours from Manila to the Kyrgyz capital, took the lead in the 43rd minute with an improvised set piece. After Daisuke Sato was fouled on the right, Phil Younghusband laid the ball off to an unmarked Ingreso at the edge of the area and the Filipino-German curled the ball to the top corner, leaving the Kyrgyzstan keeper rooted to his spot.