Azkals through to Suzuki Cup semis with Indonesia rout

Philippines are through to the semi-finals of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup after securing a top-two finish in Group A with an stunning 4-0 triumph over ten-man Indonesia.

Phil Younghusband fired the Azkals ahead at the My Dinh National Stadium from the penalty spot in the 16th minute, before Manny Ott scored with a spectacular 20-yard drive seven minutes after halftime to double their lead.

The contest was then effectively ended in the 68th minute when Martin Steuble netted with a close-range strike, and the rout was completed 11 minutes from time when Rob Gier added a fourth for the Filipinos.

Having opened their campaign with a dominant 4-1 win over Laos at the weekend, Philippines entered Tuesday’s clash knowing victory would be enough to seal their berth in the last four, although it was not expected to be an easy tie for them given they had never beaten the Indonesians before.

They could have fallen behind after just two minutes when a shaky start saw their defence fail to clear their lines and allow Achmad Jufriyanto to get a snapshot away, although Patrick Deyto reacted well to make the save before Daisuke Sato hacked the ball to safety.

Philippines then had a couple of chances when Patrick Reichelt headed straight at Kurnia Meiga Hermansyah, before Misagh Bahadoran drew an even better save from the Indonesia keeper with a deflected strike that almost looped in just under the bar.

But in the 15th minute, Bahadoran’s determination not to give up on what appeared to be a lost cause saw him race through after chasing down Zulkifli Syukur’s misplaced back-pass, before being upended inside the box by Firman Utina.

The referee had no other option but to award a penalty to the Azkals, which was confidently dispatched into the far corner by Younghusband for the opener.

Buoyed at going in front, Thomas Dooley’s charges began to exude real confidence when going forward and Reichelt and Simone Rota both have decent chances to add to their tally but were just unable to hit the target.

Nonetheless, Indonesia could easily have pulled level on the stroke of halftime when Sato – in a bid to prevent Sergio van Dijk from reaching Firman Utina’s freekick – could only head the ball towards his own goal, but Deyto produced a flying save to spare his team-mate’s blushes.

Having survived that scare, Philippines knew they needed a second goal to give themselves a bit of breathing space and Ott provided that just seven minutes into the second half with an absolute stunner; latching onto Bahadoran’s cut-back and unleashed an unstoppable 20-yard half-volley into the top corner.

Eight minutes after the hour mark, things got even better for them when they were awarded an indirect freekick inside the box after Meiga was adjudged to have handled a back-pass.

While Garuda were still appealing against the decision, Younghusband quickly slipped a pass to Steuble and the Sporting Kansas City man made no mistake in slotting into the unguarded net for his side’s third.

By now, the Indonesians were facing the prospect of an embarrassing defeat and things got even worse in the 73rd minute when they were reduced to ten men as Rizky Pora was shown a straight red after preventing Younghusband from racing through on goal with a last-man foul.

Indonesia did come close to salvaging some pride four minute later when Cristian Gonzales threatened to pull one back but Deyto produced an excellent save to keep out his header, before diving bravely to deny the follow-up effort.

And with 11 minutes remaining, Philippines went to round off the scoring when Gier, having met Ott’s right-wing delivery with a stooping header that came off the post, reacted quickest to poke home the rebound.

Having secured their place in the last four with a game to spare, Philippines now only need a point in their final game against Vietnam to seal top spot, while Garuda’s hopes of qualification are all but over.

Philippines: Patrick Deyto, Simone Rota, Amani Aguinaldo, Juan Luis Guirado (Rob Gier 16’), Daisuke Sato, Manny Ott, Jerry Lucena, Martin Steuble, Patrick Reichelt (Chris Greatwich 72’), Misagh Bahadoran (Simon Greatwich 84’), Phil Younghusband.

Indonesia: Kurnia Meiga Hermansyah, Zulkifli Syukur, Muhammad Roby, Achmad Jufriyanto, Rizky Pora, Muhammad Ridwan (Boaz Solossa 46’), Raphael Maitimo, Firman Utina (Manahati Lestusen 71’), Zulham Zamrun (Cristian Gonzales 65’), Sergio van Dijk, Samsul Arif.

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