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Azkals repeat over Kyrgyzstan in a nailbiter on Misagh's magic

Martin Steuble, Iain Ramsay and Stephan Schröck mobbed Misagh Bahadoran after the super sub gave the Azkals a fitting send-off before the Suzuki Cup.
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- The Philippines took a masterful halftime substitution to eke out a 1-0 nailbiter over Kyrgyzstan in their final friendly of the year Wednesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Substitute Misagh Bahadoran became the answered prayer for Thomas Dooley, firing the lone strike in the second half to end their two-match losing skid at home and to repeat their conquest over the Central Asians who were ranked 99th-best in the world.

The Azkals have to survive some close shaves down the stretch and gave Patrick Deyto and Roland Müller a joint clean-sheet to gave themselves a fitting send-off before embarking on defending the home turf in the AFF Suzuki Cup which kicks off on the 19th.

Aleksandr Krestinin were left to rue their missed chances, mostly from their corners, as they left the fabled ground empty-handed, with the loss spoiled their history making FIFA Ranking after their October performances.

Both sides made a couple of changes since they last met in September, with the American chose to start Mark Hartmann up front and put Daisuke Sato at the heart of the defence with Amani Aguinaldo, while the Russian had to replace Valeri Kichin with Amanbek Manybekov at the backline.

Yet it was the Falcons who were the first to test Roland Müller's cool, as Azamat Baimatov had his header disallowed in the 33rd minute for a foul inside the box.

Nine minutes later, Tamerlan Kozubaev heads the ball over to compound the attacking woes of the visiting side, as they share the halftime-break with no goals to show for either side.

Dooley then shifted his side with more attacking intent when he put in the Global skipper to replace the ineffective free agent as part of his triple switch along with Deyto and Junior Muñoz.

The plan paid huge dividends to the hosts, with Bahadoran played a 1-2 with Iain Ramsay into the Kyrgyz half before firing it past Valery Kashuba in the 65th minute.

Deyto dodged two massive bullets in the second half, none bigger than the Akhlidin Ismailov's free kick which hit the crossbar and over it ten minutes before full time to preserve a confidence-boosting win for the Azkals ahead of the showpiece tournament ten days from now.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada