HISTORY! Azkals beat Tajikistan to enter AFC Asian Cup
Santino Honasan on Mar 27, 2018 09:42 PM
The Philippine Azkals make history by clinching a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup with a 2-1 win over Tajikistan
The Philippine Azkals made history Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium after beating Tajikistan, 2-1, to clinch their spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The Azkals fell behind midway through the second half after Kevin Ingreso committed a foul inside the box to award the visiting Tajikistan side a penalty, which Nazarov Akhtam drilled in the 64th minute.
Ingreso made up for his error moments later as he helped the Azkals pull even, scoring on a header off an Iain Ramsay cross in the 73rd minute.
Team captain Phil Younghusband sealed the Azkals win late in regulation, sinking a penalty of his own in the 90th minute after Tajikistan was called for a handball inside the penalty box.
It was Younghusband's 50th international goal.
Things got chippy near the end of the match when a bit of phyiscality ensued and Tajikistan's Dzhalilov Iskandar geta booked for a red card.
In the end, it was only the final score line that mattered, as the Azkals held on to the 2-1 victory, clinching arguably their biggest win in team history.
"It was an emotional game. It's a difficult game when you know you don't need to win the game. We were very cautious, as cautious as possible," Younghusband said after the match. "They had to win the game. But when they scored their first goal, I think that spurred us to play our best football because we knew we needed to attack."
"It showed the spirit of the Filipino people, the fighting spirit. Even when we’re down, we can bounce back and I think we showed and typified it today." Younghusband added.
With the win, the Azkals finish on top of Group F with 12 points off three wins and three draws.
More importantly, the first-place finish gives the Azkals their first trip to the AFC Asian Cup, which kicks off on January 5, 2019 in the United Arab Emirates.