Azkals through to Suzuki Cup semis with 2-0 thumping of Myanmar

Pushovers no more.

The Philippine Azkals proved to everyone that they have indeed arrived, making history by beating Myanmar for the first time ever with a masterful 2-0 result that booked them a return trip to the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Phil Younghusband pushed the Azkals ahead in the 46th minute after latching on to a great pass from Jason De Jong. Myanmar, which needed a win to advance, pressed its attack for the rest of the match, but substitute Angel Guirado, who came in for Dennis Wolf in the 35th minutes, put the outcome beyond doubt with an insurance goal in the 93d minute with a solo run off a pass from birthday boy Carlie De Murga.

[RELATED: Read match report]

Younghusband finally shook off what had been a lethargic performance in the Azkals’ first two matchesand looked to score early on, keeping the Myanmar keeper busy with three shots on goal in the first half. The Loyola Meralco striker finally broke through a minute into the second half after De Jong found him with a good pass on the right flank and he calmly navigated his way through the box to set up a left-footed strike that found the back of the net.

Myanmar, now pressed to score twice to secure passage into the semifinals, tried desperately to get on the scoreboard, but Azkals keeper Eduard Sacapano together with the back four of Rob Gier, Juani Guirado, De Murga and Dennis Cagara constantly frustrated them.

Myanmar came close to equalizing a couple of times with two unmarked headers, but their efforts were off. Guirado finally sealed the win deep in injury time, handling a long pass from De Murga and going off on a solo run that ended with him beating the keeper with a well-placed strike in the 93rd minute.

[RELATED: Read match preview]

The Azkals thus made it to the last four of this prestigious regional tournament for the second straight time, and this time around, unlike in 2010 when they had to play both semifinal matches before a boisterous crowd in Jakarta, the team will have a home match, scheduled on December 8 at the Rizal Stadium.

The Philippines finished second in Group B with six points on two wins, the first coming against Vietnam, a 1-0 victory last November 27. Thailand beat Vietnam, 3-1 in the other match to top Group A with the full nine points. The Azkals will face the top placer in Group B, while the Thais will take on the second placer.

Final Group B matches will be held Sunday, with host Malaysia clashing with Indonesia and Singapore facing Laos in a wide-open race. Indonesia has four points, while Malaysia and Singapore both have three and Laos one.


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