REALITY CHECK | Uzbekistan sends Azkals back to earth with Bocaue beatdown

Rejj Sibayan (file photo)
By Kevin Estrada

BOCAUE--Tortured, mangled and impaled.

These are the words that described the Philippine national team in its worst home loss in 43 years after Uzbekistan dealt them with a comprehensive and clinical 5-1 beat down in a joint World Cup-Asian Cup Qualifier at the Philippine Sports Stadium on Tuesday night.

Braces by Sardor Rashidov and Igor Sergeev followed a 45-second goal by skipper Odil Akhmedov shoved them ahead of the Azkals in the Group H table due to goal difference, after both nations are tied with six points on the account of two wins and a loss. Stephan Schrock’s lone goal was not enough for the hosts who already lost defenders Juani Guirado, Robert Gier and Simone Rota to injury.

The White Wolves imposed their will right from the opening whistle and stamped their class over the lower-ranked hosts, in which their 45-second opener by Akhmedov off a Server Djeparov pass mercilessly threw Dooley’s plans, and his patented 3-4-3 formation out of the window.

Thirteen minutes later, the former Asian Cup semifinalists doubled their advantage after Rashidov’s left foot that blasted to the top of the net.

From then on, it was all Azkals one-way traffic, but several attempts at goal went for naught.

With two minutes left before half-time, Sergeev practically sealed all three points for Samvel Babayan by beating three defenders and Neil Etheridge with his left foot that sends the ball to the top corner to put them 3-0 up before going to their respective dressing rooms.

Hoping for a comeback, the American gaffer inserted Amani Aguinaldo and Schrock for the under-performing Woodland and Iain Ramsay.

But that was not the case of the visiting Central Asians with their no-nonsense five-man backline choking every Azkal attempt on goal while making their three-man defense pay with their pace and stamina.

That bore fruit twenty minutes in the second half, with Segeev bagging a brace with a header off their corner to quadruple their lead.

Three minutes later, Schrock gave the 7,500-strong PSS a temporary lift when he fired a 45-yard free kick from left field past Alexander Lobanov.

However, that was all the Azkals wrote as Rashidov had his brace ten minutes from time after a poor clearance to put the death sentence to the demoralized hosts, who previously lost at home to Australia on Oct. 29, 1972 in Manila.