HANOI – The Philippine men’s football team more than made up for an early miscue with a splendid showing the rest of the way to overwhelm Laos, 4-1, for an auspicious start to its Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup campaign on Saturday at the My Dinh National Stadium.
The Azkals fell into an early hole, but got their act together midway through the first half before turning it up a notch after intermission to score the blowout victory.
Patrick Reichelt provided the spark off the bench with a brace, but it was Phil Younghusband who made his goals possible while adding a strike of his own, and Simone Rota chipped in a goal for the Filipino booters, who gained early lead in Group A with three points.
For a while, though, the Azkals had to endure an early scare as Laos found the back of the net with a free kick after an unnecessary foul by the Philippines 20 minutes into the match.
“You’re always worried, but you know the first game of a tournament is always a bit difficult,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said in the post-match press conference. “But when we got the first goal, it was okay (from there).”
It was Rota who started to turn the game around for the Filipinos, heading home a Manny Ott cross from the right side to equalize five minutes before stoppage time.
Six minutes later, the Azkals took the lead with another header, this time from Younghusband off a pinpoint pass from Jerry Lucena, who pulled the strings along with Ott in the midfield.
Younghusband turned into a supplier in the second half, assisting on both Reichelt’s goals.
After coming in the 65th minute for Mark Hartmann, Reichelt struck 12 minutes later, before completing his two-goal effort with a close-range strike two minutes before injury time.