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Azkals book historic ticket to AFC Asian Cup

The Philippines made football history on Tuesday after defeating Tajikistan, 2-1, to qualify ever for the prestigious AFC Asian Cup for the first time.

Longtime Azkals star Phil Younghusband sealed the victory with a penalty kick at the 90th minute, scoring his 50th goal in international competition in the most dramatic fashion.

With the win, the Azkals finished on top of Group F with 12 points to seal their ticket to next year's tournament in the United Arab Emirates.



But the Philippines had to go through quite a scare against a game Tajikistan side, which drew first blood after Kevin Ingreso gave up a penalty for a tackle inside the box, resulting in a Nazarov Akhtam goal at the 66th minute.

With the small but rabid crowd at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium at the edge of their seats, Ingreso would turn from goat to hero with a goal at the 75th minute to revive the Azkals' chances.

That would set up Younghusband's historic goal, which came after a hit on Patrick Reichelt inside the penalty box.

Tensions arose in extra time when a commotion broke out involving Tajikistan's Dzahilov Iskandar and the Philippines' Dennis Villanueva, who were both sent off.

The home team held on the rest of the way to seal perhaps the biggest step in Philippine football history, a culmination of eight years of steady ascension that began in 2010, when the Azkals first captured the fancy of the basketball-crazy nation with a surprising semifinals run in the AFF Suzuki Cup. —JST, GMA News