Azkals triumph in Hong Kong under hostile crowd
The visitors' first victory over their opponents in seven attempts was marred by crowd trouble at the end of the match, with bottles and abused hurled towards the away fans
|By Khalis Rifhan
Philippines goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was the hero of the night after his brilliant performance between the sticks helped his side to a slender 1-0 win over Hong Kong at the Mongkok Stadium on Tuesday.
Loyola Meralco Sparks midfielder James Younghusband struck the winner as the Azkals finally registered a win over Hong Kong on their seventh attempt.
The end of the game was marred by crowd trouble however, with the home fans showering the away supporters with abuse and water bottles.
It was a high intensity match between the two sides that saw the hosts spurn a few clear cut goal-scoring opportunities, as they were unable to find a way past the in-form Etheridge.
The opening stages saw the visitors going forward and trying their luck from distance, notably through Jeffrey Christiaens and Paul Mulders, with TSV Hoffenheim midfielder Stephan Schrock supporting the team from the midfield.
The winning goal came three minutes after the half-hour mark when the Azkals took advantage of their opponents' inability to clear their lines.
Chan Wai Ho’s clearance in the box went awfully wrong and James Younghusband out-jumped his markers to head the ball home and give Michael Weiss's side the lead.
It was the same scenario in the second half, with the hosts unable to finish off their chances while Philippines remained tactically disciplined in their play.
Kim Pan Gon’s side were awarded a lifeline in the 67th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Juani Guarado brought down a Hong Kong player in the box.
Chan Siu Ki sent his spot-kick right down the middle but even though Etheridge had thrown his body to the right, he was still able to prevent the ball from crossing the line with an outstretched leg.
Hong Kong almost equalised five minutes towards the end but Etheridge was once again quick to react as he palmed away Lam Ka Wai’s shot from close range.
There was no denying Etheridge’s ability as the Fulham reserve goalkeeper pulled off yet another stupendous save in the dying minutes of the game, saving Chan’s point-blank effort.
After the final whistle, there were celebrations from the Philippines camp but ugly scenes in the stands as there were minor scuffles breaking out between both set of fans.
There were reports of bottles and abused being hurled towards the visiting team as they were making their way to the dressing room.
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