Philippine Azkals’ shot at history hinged on the shoulders of Phil Younghusband and he delivered.
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The nation’s leading scorer sent the ball to the back of the net for his 50th goal to push the Philippine Azkals to their first ever 2019 AFC Asian Cup stint with a nail-biting 2-1 victory over Tajikistan Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Younghusband scored off a penalty kick in the 90th minute to give the home team the insurance goal it needed to top Group F with 12 points from their three wins and three draws.
However, the historic win wouldn’t have been possible had the Azkals folded after their early blunders.
Kevin Ingreso gave up a penalty for the Azkals in the 62nd minute after his poor tackle inside the box led to Nazarov Akhtam drilling the penalty shot past goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to put Tajikistan up, 1-0.
Ingreso, though, would make up for his miscue ten minutes later as he converted the header off of an assist from Iain Ramsay from the left wing in the 73rd minute to knot the score at one goal apiece.
From there, it was a tremendous defensive display from the Philippine squad as Neil Etheridge stifled Tajikistan’s numerous chances on goal before Younghusband’s wizardry.
The Philippines is headed to the continental showpiece in United Arab Emirates in January next year.