Philippine Azkals close out World Cup Qualifiers in dramatic fashion with comeback win over North Korea

Santino Honasan on Mar 30, 2016 12:23 AM
Azkals pull off dramatic comeback win over North Korea
Iain Ramsay celebrates after scoring the eventual game-winning goal against North Korea, Tuesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The Philippine Azkals won, 3-2.

Misagh Bahadoran scored in the first half, while Manny Ott and Iain Ramsay both added goals of their own in the final ten minutes to help the Philippine Azkals earn a dramatic 3-2 comeback win over North Korea, Tuesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

After a shaky start, the Azkals found their footing, managing to display the same defensive effort they did less than a week earlier in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This time however, it was the Pinoy side that got to the scoreboards first, after Bahadoran, who returned to the lineup after serving a suspension, recovered a deflected attempt form Javi Patino and headed it in for the one-nil advantage.

The lead wouldn’t last long however, as So Kyong Jin also recovered a deflected attempt and capitalized on a displaced Neil Etheridge for the equalizer, just before halftime.

The momentum shifted in favor of the visiting side early in the second half, when Ri Hyok Chol found himself in perfect position to tip the ball straight into the back of the net after a wild scramble, giving the Korean side the lead in the 48th mark.

Seemingly headed for another heartbreaking finish, the Pinoy side mounted one last rally in the final ten minutes of the match. Sparked by the entry of James Younghusband, the re-energized home squad pushed the pace on the offensive end until national team first-timer Miguel Tanton found Ott with a perfectly timed backheel assist for the 84th minute equalizer.

Desperate for a positive ending to their World Cup Qualifiers campaign, the home side continued to force the action on offense.

With around a minute left in regulation, Patino sent an excellent cross to Ramsay, who sent it home for the 3-2 advantage, much to the delight of the Pinoy crowd.

With three minutes of injury time added to regulation, the Azkals clamped down on the North Korean visitors to secure the win and complete a comeback for the ages.

“I’m very happy with the outcome, obviously,” said Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley during the post-match presser. “What makes me very happy is that we created our chances.”

Dooley also commented on the substitutions he made late in the second half, saying that inserting Younghusband and Ramsay helped provide the Azkals with the second wind that they needed to mount the comeback.

With the win, coupled by Bahrain’s 1-0 loss to Uzbekistan in the final match of the Group Stages, the Azkals finish at third in Group H with ten points, which means that they qualify for the third round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, which is set to begin in March of 2017.

Uzbekistan finshes at the top of the group with 21 points, thanks to the North Korea loss. They advance to the third round of the World Cup Qualifiers, while North Korea finishes at second with 16 points, while Bahrain and Yemen finish at fourth and fifth, with nine and three points respectively. 

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