Philippines 0 Indonesia 1 - Gonzales puts Indonesia on top
Jakarta: Christian Gonzales capitalised on a defensive mix-up to give Indonesia a narrow advantage over the Philippines in the first leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final on Thursday.
The Uruguay-born striker headed the only goal of the game after goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and full-back Ray Jonsson had got in each other's way in the 32nd minute at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
It proved to be the only real lapse by the Filipino defence who defended heroically throughout the evening. But it was enough to give the Indonesians a precious lead to take into the return match at the same venue on Sunday.
The partisan home crowd of 70,000 created a deafening roar as the game kicked off but the Philippines showed few signs of nerves early on despite the intimidating atmosphere.
Gonzales put a weak shot wide in the opening minute but the first real Indonesian chance only arrived after 10 minutes when Oktovianus Maniani gave the ball to an overlapping Mohammad Nasuha, who cut it back from the left for Gonzales whose close range attempt went straight at Etheridge.
The Philippines were solid defensively in the early stages and created a few chances of their own. On 14 minutes, Phil Younghusband drilled a low shot from the edge of the Indonesian box that goalkeeper Markus Harison turned out for a corner.
Midway through the first half, Phil's elder brother James created a fine opening for himself. He turned brilliantly away from a challenge by Muhammad Ridwan on the left flank and ran unchallenged before unleashing a vicious low swerving shot from 25 metres that Harison did well to parry. Ian Araneta attempted to pounce on the rebound but was flagged for offside
The Philippines competed well for the first half-hour, allowing the Indonesians few real scoring opportunities. But having gone nearly four hours without conceding a goal in the tournament, their composure finally cracked after a fatal defensive mix-up.
There appeared to be little danger when Firman Utina swung in a deep cross from midfield to the right of the Filipino box. But Etheridge and Jonsson got in each other's way and the ball fell nicely for a lurking Gonzales, who placed his header into the unguarded net.
The goal ignited the Indonesian crowd and the home side turned up the pressure for the rest of the half.
The Filipino defence had recovered their poise their poise though and Alexander Borromeo made a great defensive header to clear a dangerous cross by Muhammad Ridwan before it could reach Irfan Bachdim or Gonzales. Jonsson then made up for his earlier lapse with a good challenge to deny Irfan before he could fire a shot on target.
Eleven minutes into the second half, Robert Gier produced the tackle of the game with a sliding challenge to stop Gonzales as he bore down on the Philippines goal after being released by Irfan's through ball.
The Indonesians continued to plug away throughout the second half only to be turned away time after time by the Filipino defence, which put in some fine last-ditch tackles to deny the Indonesians a clear change against Etheridge.
The visitors themselves had few real chances but they nearly drew level after an Indonesian defensive mix-up in the 75th minute. Maman Abdurachman got in the way of Harison as the goalkeeper attempted to gather the ball on the edge of the box and the loose ball fell to James Younghusband who fired a bicycle kick towards goal. Fortunately for the Indonesians, Zulkifly Syukur was alert to the danger and heroically headed the ball off his goalline.
Bambang Pamungkas came on as a substitute and broke into the box in the 80th minute only to be forced wide by Etheridge. The striker was still able to put in a cross from the left but it flew just over the head of Gonzales.