Younghusbands forge 2-2 RP draw with Laos
VIENTIANE, LAOS—James Younghusband rescued a resilient Philippine side with a header deep into injury time that salvaged a 2-2 draw against Laos Sunday night in the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Championship qualifying event at the National Stadium here.
Younghusband, who had two assists in the 5-0 rout of Timor Leste, rose above everyone else to head home the equalizer off goalkeeper Neil Etheridge’s free kick from the half line in the 94th minute and stun the home side.
The crowd was already looking forward to a celebration after the host nation, which had beaten the Filipinos via similar 2-1 scores in Bacolod in 2006 and in Phnom Penh in the 2008 qualifier, seemed poised for a repeat win by grabbing a two-goal lead at halftime.
But James’ younger brother, Phil, got the RP rally going with his 76th-minute penalty conversion, after Ian Araneta was fouled inside the box.
“It was all about heart,” said RP team manager Dan Palami. “We were down two goals and we never gave up. That speaks a lot about the mentality of our team. We were resilient. The team just showed tremendous spirit.”
The result kept the Filipinos on top with four points after two matches and left the Laotians, with two points after draws against Cambodia and the Philippines, in a must-win match against Timor Leste.
The RP booters only need a draw in their last match against Cambodia today to advance to the main tournament in Indonesia. The runner-up will join another group in Vietnam.
“We’re not taking chances,” said Palami. “We want to top the qualifiers.”
The Filipinos proved persistent in the second half of a match marred by petulant tackles and rough play that saw RP winger Chieffy Caligdong stretchered off in the 27th minute with an injured right thigh.
The Laotians had proven dangerous on the counter-attack on a couple of occassions before they finally struck through Soukhaphone Vongchi-engkham in the 28th minute, while Caligdong was getting treatment.
The Filipinos were again caught napping in the 40th minute, when Anton del Rosario left his line to join the attack and failed to recover in time to deny the cross that led to a fine volley by Kanlaya Sys-omvang, whose shot left Etheridge helpless.
But the Filipinos, showing spring in their step, piled up the pressure in the second half with skipper Aly Borromeo and Phil Younghusband forcing a double save on Laos goalie Sengphachan Bounthisanh in the 57th minute.
Araneta, the hat-trick hero in the rout of Timor Leste, also came close with a diving header in the 68th, and the pressure finally paid off when he earned a penalty which Phil Younghusband easily converted for his 11th goal in 11 appearances for the national team.
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