MANILA, Philippines – (1st UPDATE) The Philippine Azkals made history once again after defeating Palestine, 4-3, in a thrilling game to wind up in third place in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Monday afternoon in Nepal.
It was the Philippines’ best ever finish in the biennial tournament for developing football nations.
Phil Younghusband scored two goals to raise his tournament total to six, while Angel and Juani Guirado both added to the goal-fest for the Azkals.
Younghusband broke the ice in the third minute, taking a beautiful pass from team captain Chieffy Caligdong before weaving his way through three Palestinian defenders to score his fifth goal of the tournament.
But after two straight shots on goal, Palestine finally broke through in the 21st minute when Abudalhamid Abuhabib struck the equalizer, which sailed past Azkals keeper Eduard Sacapaño.
The Azkals were able to restore their lead just four minutes later when Caligdong was brought down inside the penalty box. Younghusband coolly delivered the penalty kick to put the Philippines ahead 2-1.
Just before half time, Angel Guirado made it 3-1 for the Philippines after he evaded Palestinian keeper Ramzi Saleh and slotted the ball through.
Palestine was able to close the gap when Abuhabib scored his second goal of the game in the 66th minute, but Juani Guirado restored the Azkals’ advantage with a superb strike two minutes later.
Guirado received the through ball from James Younghusband and evaded the offside trap to put the Philippines ahead 4-2.
Palestine was able to cut in the lead three minutes later, when a defensive lapse by the Azkals allowed Fahed Attal to score.
Though Palestine attempted numerous times to go for the equalizer, the Azkals defense held.
It was a historic victory for the Philippines, who missed the chance to make the Challenge Cup finals after a heartbreaking 1-2 setback against Turkmenistan in the semi-finals.
They also booked impressive victories against former champions India (2-0) and Tajikistan (2-1) during the group stage.