Two goals at the death ensures that the finalists from the last edition of the Challenge Cup once again book their spot in the final…
Turkmenistan made a brilliant comeback to score twice in seven minutes to beat Philippines 2-1 at the Dashrat Rangsala Stadium, Nepal in the first semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.
Goals from Arsalanmyrat Amanov and Gahrymanberdy Chonkaev late in the second half were enough for the Turks after Phil Younghusband had scored for the Azkals.
The two teams made three changes to their line-ups from the last match as Ahmet Atayev,Ruslan Mingazov,Astanov Umidjan got the nod for Turkmenistan while Jason de Jong, Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles found their way into the starting eleven for the Philippines.
Although it was Hojageldiyew’s men who saw more of the ball, the Azkals had the better opportunities with Phil Younghusband’s attempt in the eight minute missing the target by not much being the first.
Juan Luis Gurrado’s throw-in saw Younghusband volley it wide with the Turkmenistani defence caught napping in the 26th minute. The breakthrough came in the next instance when Paul Mulders’ cross from the right saw Younghusband chest it down to make it 1-0.
Thereafter Turkmenistan launched an attack of their own when Gahrymanberdy Chonkaev cut inside and saw his left footed shot beat Etheridge and come off the crossbar.
Arsalanmyrat Amanov and Gahrymanberdy Chonkaev would have been the villains had they not scored later in the match as the duo combined and failed to find the back of the net in the 41st minute with an open goal in front of them.
A minute later, Chonkaev was through on goal but Etheridge did well to come off his line to deny the winger.
Before the half-time break, Turkmenistan did manage to find the back of the net from a Şöhrat Soyunow’s header but the linesman flagged it offside.
After the break, the Azkals chose to stay behind the ball and hope to attack on the counter, a ploy which terribly failed. While Turkmenistan were guilty of failing to create openings in spite of enjoying a lot of possession, the Philippines lacked the belief to take on the opponents and initiate an attack of their own.
Aside from a de Jong shot in the 76th minute which was kept away by Alyhanov, there wasn’t much attacking threat posed by Weiss’ side.
The equaliser came in the 80th minute when Arsalanmyrat Amanov was given time and space outside the box to shoot and he did so to beat Etheridge.
It was Chonkaev’s time for redemption as he arguably scored the goal of the competition. He twisted and turned inside the box from the right and slotted the ball home towards the far post to leave the Philippines spellbound.
The match ended with ugly scenes after Neil Etheridge had an altercation with Chonkaev which left the latter in pain. Etheridge was sent-off in the fourth minute of injury time to leave his side to contend the last minute with ten-men.
It was certainly a top performance by the Azkals having made it into the semis however the lack of experience eventually caught up with them on which the Turks capitalized.