Philippines are up to third in their FIFA World Cup Asian second round qualification group after a win over Maldives. The Azkals were nullified by the opposition in the first half but recovered to score twice in the second and seal the win.
Both teams started slowly, with the Azkals the more dominant of the two. However, they were far from efficient during the first period and wasted some good opportunities. The best chance of the half fell to Patrick Reichelt, who stepped up to take a spot-kick after the referee had caught a handball in the box. However, his shot was saved and the two teams went into the break level on score.
Philippines had picked up a bit of momentum during the final minutes of the first half, which they then seem to have carried over to the second period. The Azkals finally got their breakthrough when Iain Ramsay scored the opener in the fifty-second minute.
Shortly after, it was two-nil thanks to a strike from Patrick Strauss, who scored from close range after Philippines had hit the crossbar twice during the same phase of play. Substitute Naiz Hassa did pull one back for Maldives late on albeit his effort counted for little with the referee blowing the final whistle soon after.
With this match done and dusted, Philippines will next face Syria in the qualifiers while Maldives will play Guam.
MALDIVES: Faisal (GK), Akram (C), Nuuman, Hussain Shifau, Haisham Hassan, Ibrahim Aisam, Hussain Nihaan, Ibrahim Mahudhee, Ali Fasir (66′ Ali Ashfaq), Asadhulla (66′ Naiz Hassan), Hamza Mohamed
PHILIPPINES: Neil Etheridge (GK), Daisuke Sato (60′ Curt Dizon), Carli de Murga, Alvaro Silva, Justin Baas, Luke Woodland (72′ Mike Ott), Iain Ramsay, Stephan Schrock, Patrick Strauss, Patrick Reichelt, Mark Hartmann (66′ Guirado)
(Photo credit: Asian Football Confederation)