The Philippine national football team, the Azkals, qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time ever after beating Tajikistan, 2-1, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Azkals had several chances in the first half. Carlie de Murga’s header off a corner was just wide in the 12th minute. Iain Ramsey’s fine volley in the 18th minute was saved by the Tajikistan goalkeeper. Manny Ott’s shot in the 25th minute was pushed wide, resulting in a corner.
Tajikistan also had several chances, particularly in the 13th minute with a header that went wide. A free kick in first half added time was blocked by the Azkals’ wall.
The Azkals fell behind in the 64th minute after Tajikistan was awarded a penalty, which they converted. The Tajiks had the chance to double their lead four minutes later with a long-range effort that went wide.
The Azkals finally equalized in the 74th minute. Iain Ramsey latched on a through-ball and crossed to the far post, where Kevin Ingreso was waiting to make a perfectly placed header that beat the Tajikistan goalkeeper.
Only needing a draw to advance to the 2019 Asian Cup, the Azkals made their efforts count. They were awarded a penalty in the 89th minute. Phil Younghusband coolly dispatched the penalty to make it 2-1.
The match became heated in added time after Carlie de Murga was hit from behind. The offending Tajikistan player was later sent off.
The Azkals held on and celebrated at the full-time whistle. History was made at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. They will play in the 2019 Asian Cup on January 5 to February 1, 2019 at the United Arab Emirates.