Azkals meet expectations in comfortable win over Guam
The Azkals did what was expected and scored a solid 3-0 Independence Day friendly win over South East Asian minnows Guam at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, Tuesday.
In front of a packed and rowdy home crowd, Angel Guirado opened the scoring before Carli De Murga added a second four minutes later. Guirado later headed in his second of the game, with all three goals coming in the first half.
Coach Weiss named a strong squad and didn’t do much in the way of experimenting as the Azkals got their first win since their 4-3 victory over Palestine in the AFC Challenge Cup third place playoff.
The Azkals started on a high tempo. In the fifth minute, Angel Guirado curled in a fantastic cross for James Younghusband, who had lost his defender at the back post, but his header was smartly saved by Guam keeper Dallas Jaye.
The Global winger was passing the ball well and his floated crosses were causing the Guam defense problems. In the eighth minute Guirado curled in another cross but it kept curling and curling and found the top corner of the net with the keeper caught by surprise for Guirado’s sixth goal for the Philippines.
The Azkals soon doubled their lead as Carli De Murga got forward, played a one-two with Phil Younghusband, and lashed the ball into the far corner of the net.
On the 21st minute though, Jonahan Romero and Rob Gier both jumped for a long ball and clashed heads, with Gier heading into the back of the Kaya midfielder’s head.
The collision left Gier bleeding and off the pitch for a while with the Azkals temporarily down to ten men. Guam looked more dangerous with the man advantage and fashioned their first shot, but it was straight at Neil Etheridge. Winning the first corner of the game, Gier came back onto the pitch and as Guam swung the ball in, he was the one to clear away.
Minutes later Zachary DeVille of Guam burst down the right flank and was in behind the defense until Rob Gier’s last ditch challenge, timed perfectly, dispossessed him of the ball and the chance to score.
Guam threatened again when a free-kick was crossed in deep and the Azkals’ defense inexplicably left the ball. Luckily, none of the Guam forwards could get on the end of it.
The Azkals almost extended their lead when Denis Wolf broke free on the right, passed across to Angel Guirado in the center but his shot was cleared off the line in the 36th minute.
Guirado did score his second just before half-time, in the 47th minute, as Dennis Cagara provided another great cross and Guam’s lack of marking left Guirado free to direct the header into the top corner of the net as the Azkals went into the break with a 3-0 lead.
Making no substitutions for the second half, the Azkals started with the same lineup. They almost furthered their lead in the 58th minute when Denis Wolf was open and received a pass but he took a touch and hit it wide.
Meanwhile Rob Gier received more treatment for his head injury and received a yellow card when he came back onto the field while play was ongoing, though it seemed the referee waved him back on the pitch causing some confusion and angering Gier.
Back on the attack, Denis Wolf wasted another opportunity as De Murga found the Fil-German at the edge of the area. Wolf took a touch and hit with his left foot but dragged the ball wide of the goal.
The Azkals were camped in Guam’s half for the early stages of the second half with Jerry Lucena spreading the ball left to Dennis Cagara who passed along the ground and into the area for James Younghusband, but the Loyola winger just couldn’t get enough of a touch on the ball to direct it goalwards.
Wolf completed his hat-trick of misses and undid the good work of Angel Guirado who burst down the left flank, from inside his own area, beating three defenders along the way and crossed into the center. With both Philippine forwards away from their markers, Wolf took the ball and shot straight at the keeper.
This was Wolf’s last action in the game as in the 69th minute Misagh Bahadoran became the first substitution for the Philippines, somewhat long coming given the 3-0 lead and the wealth of players in reserve. Guam were trying hard throughout, though, and seeing another shot fly into the arms of Neil Etheridge, they were at least attacking rather than trying to sit back and limit the scoreline.
Jason De Jong came into the match on the 72nd minute as Rob Gier was rested after putting in a good shift for the team. Two minutes later Anto Gonzales made a long-awaited return to the Azkals as he came on from Marwin Angeles to join Jason De Jong in the center of midfield while Lucena moved into the defense.
Meanwhile at the other end Phil Younghusband broke through on the right and shot powerfully but Jaye pulled off another good one handed save to put the ball behind for a corner.
As the first corner was cleared, Angel Guirado came off for Jeffrey Christiaens but his first action was to give the ball away to Guam who countered well and would have had a clear goalscoring opportunity if not for Anto Gonzales’ awareness to intercept the ball while outnumbered.
Misagh Bahadoran had the next chance in the 83rd minute as he stole the ball from a defender inside the area and dribbled at goal from the byline. With the goalkeeper well positioned he could only hit it straight at Jaye. He got a yellow card shortly after for a slide tackle but getting the ball first it actually looked like a great challenge on the replay.
Phil Younghusband was the next to shoot wide as he teased two defenders on the edge of the area and drilled the ball just wide.
So as the clock wound down, the Philippines celebrated their 114th anniversary of independence with a 3-0 victory over Guam. It was a comfortable win in the end, with the Azkals mustering ten shots on target and seventeen in total to Guam’s three on target and six total shots. - AMD/HS, GMA News