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Malditas murder Tajikistan to inch closer to Asian Cup qualification

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Inching closer. The Filipinas beat Tajikistan for 8 without reply to inch closer to Jordan. (photo by PWNT assistant coach Jo Loren.)
By Kevin Estrada

The Philippine women's national team continue their dominant roll in the joint World Cup-Asian Cup qualifiers, blanking Group A hosts Tajikistan for eight unanswered goals Friday afternoon in Pamir Stadium in Dushanbe (Friday evening, Manila time)

Flexing their muscles for the third straight match, the Malditas were aggressive all match long, with their all-around game kept the Central Asian side guessing in the entirety of the match in a variety of ways, taking maximum points in as many matches to go on top of their group and to inch closer to its first appearance in the Asian Cup since 2003.

What is astonishing is the fact that three-fourths of the goals came from headers, as they prepare for a crucial match with third-placed Bahrain on Monday in which a win will catapult them to Amman next year.

It took seventeen minutes for the Filipinas to go on the board first, with forward Eva Madarang firing her fourth goal of the qualifiers by heading Sara Castañeda's cross to beat Sakhina Saidova in the left side of the net.

Sixteen minutes after Madarang's effort, Sara's younger sibling Anicka doubled their advantage by pouncing on Saidova's left side, this time by firing the ball to the top left corner to open her Malditas' goalscoring account in style.

Coach Buda's drills in the corner kicks bore fruit in the 38th minute with defender Hali Long making it 3-from a Claire Lim's inswinger that the Little Rock defender pounced on the first instance, as they put the match to bed at the half.

However, it was just the start of a more dominant second half, as the elder Castañeda pounced on a defensive lapse to head the ball away to make it 4-0 just three minutes at the restart to take all three points.

Long bagged her brace just before the hour mark as she towers over the Tajik backline with another header from Lim's free kick for the Malditas to go 5 and Up.

Not contented with the scoreline, the Filipinas polished their scoring boots by unleashing a three-goal blitz in the final six minutes, with Long completing her hat-trick of headers in the 84th minute off another Lim free kick.

The younger Castañeda then completed her brace a minute after Long's hat-trick with a thunderous right foot into the top right of Saidova, before Christine Duran put the final score on a header from a Patricia Tomanon cross just before full time.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada