MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – The Philippine Azkals earned their first win in the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup by outclassing Laos, 2-0, on Thursday at the Hithadhoo Stadium in Maldives.
The Azkals, who settled for goalless draw with Aghanistan last Tuesday, got a pair of goals from Simone Rota and Patrick Reichelt.
The Filipino squad enjoyed more possession early in the first half but had trouble scoring.
Juani Guirado’s header in the 8th minute could have drawn first blood for the Philippines, but was denied by the crossbar.
Stephan Schrock’s setup for Phil Younghusband in the 23rd minute was likewise foiled by the Laotian squad.
The Azkals found success in the 40th when they pressed their attack. After Laos cleared Schrock's attempt, the ball landed right in front of Rota who fired the shot that placed the Philippines ahead, 1-0.
It was Rota’s first international goal for the Philippines.
The Laotians regrouped in the second half by pushing up their line after the Azkals slowed down.
But Reichelt broke the lull and extended their lead in the 62nd minute when he unleashed a header that sent the ball to the lower right corner of the net.
The Philippines would have made it 3-0 against Laos, but an unguarded Younghusband, who served a suspension during their first match, misfired in the 72nd minute. His shot sent the ball sailing over the bar.
The Azkals played without Fil-Brit goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and Chris Greatwich. Etheridge, who was replaced by Roland Mueller, had to rest due to an injury, while Greatwich suffered an eye injury during their match against Afghanistan.
The Philippines is now on top of Group B with 4 points and a +2 goal difference, followed by Turkmenistan with 3 points (+4 GD). Afghanistan has 1 point (0 GD), while Laos is dead last with no point (-6 GD).
The Azkals will return to action on Saturday when they face Turkmenistan.
The game will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action starting 6:30 p.m.