AFF Suzuki Cup 2018: Philippines made to work for victory by Timor-Leste

Philippines were made to survive a spirited fightback from Timor-Leste as they maintained their 100 percent record in Group B of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 with a 3-2 win at the Kuala Lumpur Stadium.

Having opened their campaign with a 1-0 home victory over Singapore, it initially looked as though Philippines would be coasting to a second consecutive triumph as they dominated proceedings early on.

Phil Younghusband – on his 101st cap – broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when he was picked out by a layoff from Stephan Schrock and fired away a first-time effort that was spilled by Aderito into goal.

The Azkals doubled their advantage six minutes later with a clever short-freekick routine; Martin Steuble receiving possession 25 yards out from goal and unleashing a low drive into the bottom corner.

Carli de Murga then added a third in the 68th minute when he was left completely unmarked inside the six-yard box to head home a searching freekick delivery from Kevin Ingreso, and it looked as though Philippines would go on to record an emphatic victory.

But the Timorese were given a lifeline in the 73rd minute when captain Nataniel Reis sent Michael Falkesgaard the wrong way from the penalty spot, after Paul Mulders had dragged Nelson Viegas down inside the area.

And, just three minutes after, Timor-Leste reduced the deficit further with Joao Pedro beating the offside trap and easing his way past Mulders’ attempt at a last-ditch tackle, before rounding Falkesgaard to score.

Nonetheless, conceding two goals was clearly enough of a scare for Philippines, as they tightened things up in the closing stages of the contest to hold on to a win that should have been far more routine.

TIMOR-LESTE: Aderito, Candido (Feliciano Goncalves 46’), Nidio Alves, Filomeno Junior, Yohanes, Domingos (Henrique Cruz 68’), Nataniel Reis, Adelino Trindade, Joao Pedro, Nelson Viegas (Silveiro Garcia 84’), Rufino Gama.

PHILIPPINES: Michael Falkesgaard, Martin Steuble, Carli de Murga, Paul Mulders, Daisuke Sato, John-Patrick Strauss (Adam Tull 80′), Kevin Ingreso, Patrick Reichelt, Phil Younghusband, Stephan Schrock (Iain Ramsay 40’), James Younghusband (Curt Dizon 57’).