Grieving Azkals score second Suzuki Cup win after surviving late Timor scare

The Azkals celebrate after Martin Steuble scored their second goal of the match. AFF
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- In their second AFF Suzuki Cup tie in Kuala Lumpur's Cheras Stadium Saturday evening, the Philippines saw off East Timor, 3-2, but not without any late scare by the home side in Group B.

Reeling from the loss of one of the key figures in Philippine football, Sven-Göran Eriksson's Azkals saw their three-goal lead nearly disappear but their defence held their nerve in time to dedicate the three points to photographer Vhonne Servida, who lost her fight with liver cancer earlier in the day.

With Neil Etheridge not listed on Saturday night, the Swede entrusted the goalkeeping duties to Michael Falkesgaard in preparation for Thailand and Indonesia, but Nelson Viegas nearly gave him a rude Suzuki Cup debut when his shot was saved by the Bangkok man.

Skipper Phil Younghusband got his 52nd goal for the country in the 27th minute with his first open play goal in four years after being picked out in the middle of the box by Stephan Schröck and fired a powerful right foot to the left corner that was palmed late by Aderito Fernandes in goal.

Six minutes later, the visitors made it two when Martin Steuble also ended his scoring drought of nearly four years when he fired a low shot outside on a Kevin Ingreso set-piece that left Fernandes no chance to give the Azkals breathing space before the break.

Despite dominating in various statistical categories, the visitors failed to break the net in the second half until De Murga got the Azkals' third midway into the second half with his header off yet another set piece.

However the Timorese nightmare started in the final 20 minutes, when the home side caught the defence of De Murga and Mulders napping and it was the latter who was booked in the 73rd minute after conceding a penalty, which was converted by Nataniel.

Then two minutes later, Joao Pedro made it 3-2 after being picked out by Henrique Martins on yet another East Timor counter to give the Azkals back-line a wake-up call, but they could not find a third to get their first points of the competition.

Timor Leste: Adierto (GK), Gusmao, Monteiro (Goncalves 45'), Nataniel (C), Gama, Joao Pedro, Alves, De Oliveira, Ramos (Martins 68'), Da Costa, Nelson (Silveiro 84')

Philippines: Falkesgaard (GK), De Murga, Phil YH (C), Sato, Ingreso, Schröck (Ramsay 40'), Steuble, Mulders, James YH (Dizon 57'), Reichelt, Strauss (Reed 80')

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