Koreans nip Azkals United in shootout
MANILA, Philippines – Azkals United salvaged a late equalizer but fell short to Korean side Icheon Citizen, 2-4, in a penalty shootout Saturday night in the Kia Rio Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Southeast Asian Games veteran Marwin Angeles, making his debut for the senior side, unleashed a rocket from just inside the box in the 89th minute to send the match into a penalty shootout.
But Fil-Spanish standouts Angel Guirado and Carli de Murga muffed their efforts from the spot, dooming the Azkals in the exhibition match that they are using as part of their buildup for the AFC Challenge Cup.
The Azkals, missing several key players like Phil Younghusband due to club commitments, dominated the match for long periods, but lacked the cutting edge to break down the Koreans until Angeles found the back of the net late on.
Despite the loss, Azkals coach Michael Weiss was satisfied with the performance of his side considering that it trained for the match for only three days.
“I’m very happy with the performance,” said Weiss. “We showed good spirit.”
Fil-German Denis Wolf did impress in his debut for the Azkals, forcing the Korean keeper into a string of saves.
Wolf, a veteran of the Bundesliga, earned what appeared to be a penalty midway in the first half as he was fouled inside the box.
Referee Wilfredo Bermejo pointed straight to the penalty spot, but upon consultation with Grant Rojas only gave the Azkals a free kick at the edge of the area.
Wolf made a mazy run to force the corner that led to the goal. Misagh Bahadoran, starting on the right wing, played in an unmarked Angeles on top of the box, before the newcomer fired an unstoppable effort.
Bin Tae Kwan gave Icheon the lead in the 21st minute, pouncing on a defensive miscue. But apart from Kwan’s shot, the Koreans hardly troubled the makeshift Azkals backline with Rob Gier anchoring the defense.
“Physically, it was a difficult game,” said Citizen coach Hyun Chang Lee. “But we kept it going mentally.”
The Citizens went perfect in their first four attempts from the spot, beating Ed Sacapano.
But Guirado fired his shot to the crossbar in the first round of the shootout, before Chieffy Caligdong and Ruben Doctora found the back of the net to keep the Azkals afloat.
De Murga sent his effort over the bar, sealing the win for the Korean side.
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