VIENTIANE (24 Oct 2010) – Philippines battled back from a two-goal deficit to hold hosts Laos in a gripping encounter at the National Sports Complex Stadium here tonight. With time on the scoreboard up, James Younghusband rose high to nod in the equaliser to keep alive his team’s hopes of advancing to the final rounds of the prestigious AFF Suzuki Cup 2010.
Laos had taken a two-goal lead at the break with superb strikes from Soukaphone Vongchiengkham and Kanyala Sysomvang in the 29th and 41st minutes. But the Philippines had other plans and clawed their way back into contention with a penalty from Philip Younghusband in the 76th minute. That goal provided the fuel that was needed to fire up the Filipinos. And in deep in extratime, the older Younghusband notched the second goal.
The Philippines, top of the standing with four points, still have a tough journey to the final rounds as they now have to beat Cambodia, who earlier today defeated Timor Leste 4-2. Laos, currently third in the standings, have an easy tie against Timor Leste in their last match on Tuesday.
The two final matches will be a thrill as Cambodia and Philippines try to outdo each other while Laos will attempt to score more than two goals to ensure they make it through.
“We were a little over-confident at the start. As such, in the first half we put ourselves in a very difficult position,” said Simon McMenemy, the chief coach of Philippines. “But were a lot better in the second half and the penalty turned the game for us.”
Philippines fielded the same players they did against Timor Leste two days ago but their hopes that the winning lineup would deliver the goals failed miserably in the first half. Despite the obvious difference in physique, the Laos players kept the ball low and used their speed to their advantage.
In the 19th minute, Laos were celebrating after Soukaphone forced in the opener during a scramble in front of goal. Philippines keeper Neil Etherige protested that the ball had not crossed the line but the referee ruled otherwise.
The goal fired up the Laos players and they went hunting for more goals. With the 2,000 over fans cheering them on, the home boys almost doubled the score in the 33rd minute but Kanyala’s shot found the side-netting.
Kanyala was leaping in joy in the 41st minute as his thundering drive screamed into the top corner beyond the reach of the Filipino keeper. In the dying minutes, goalscorers, Soukaphone and Kanyala, had brilliant chances but were just off the mark.
“It was always going to be tough and hard and for all the pressure they put on us, I felt that we coped well,” added David Booth, the chief coach of Laos. “But the penalty turned the game against us and that was the turning point which led to the draw.”
Philippines: Neil Etheridge (GK), Robert Gier, Anton Del Rosario, James Younghusband, Manuel Gelito Ott, Philip Younghusband, Alexander Borromeo (cpt), Emelio Calidong (David 32nd), Jason De Jong, Ian Araneta, Ray Jonsson Subs: Eduard Sacapano (GK), Roel Gener, Yanti Armentia Barsales, Mark Ferrer, Nestorio Margase, Joebel Bermejo, David Basa Coach: Simon Alexander McMenemy Scorers: Philip Younghusband (76th – pen), James Younghusband (94th) Yellow: Jason De Jong (16th), Neil (30th), James (42nd), Manuel (60th), Anton (90th)