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U15 Malditas left it late vs Myanmar, sets up AFF Final against Thailand

Jumping for Joy. The Philippines U15 Girls team battle back from a goal down to book a place in Saturday's final. (photo by the AFF/Lao Football Federation)
By Kevin Estrada

The Philippines under-15 girls team booked their place in Saturday's final of the AFF championship after leaving it late against a scary Myanmar side in the second semifinal earlier in the evening in Laos' National Stadium in Vientiane.

With their trademark potency in both in attack (8 goals) and in the back (0 goals conceded) in the group stage put to a test against an ASEAN women's football powerhouse, the young Malditas showed their fighting heart in the second half, overturning an early deficit and left it late for a 3-2 nailbiter that set up their clash against Thailand, 6-0 winners over Cambodia in the first semifinal earlier on Saturday.

Myria Garcia draw first blood just two minutes before half-time with a timely poke from a Katelyn Alexander pass to send a pro-Filipino contingent up on their feet for a 1-0 lead at the half.

But Myanmar came with guns blazing at the restart when Pyae Kyaw (47', 52') hurled a five-minute brace to snatch the lead away from the Filipinas, the first one ending a 287-minute shutout run that Rizamae Ugbaniel took care for the most of it.

Being behind for the very first time in the tournament, Marielle Benitez's ladies showed steely resolve and grace under pressure and were rewarded five minutes later with Viviana Cera equalized with her left boot past the Myanmar goalkeeper.

With the match poised for extra time, Garcia did not let the Filipino contingent down this time, with her 76th minute screamer from 25 yards out won it for the Filipinas, in which they aim to take down Thailand in the third time of asking in the final, having been on the losing end for the past two AFC U-14 title matches.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada