THE Philippine Azkals blanked Yemen, 2-0 for its second win in the 2018 World Cup Qualifying at Qatar Sports Club Stadium, and shared a lead in Group H with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Going out with increased football maturity, the Azkals earned some respect from their Yemeni counterparts as they controlled the game in the first half, forcing six corners and several attempts on goal.
Yemen put up a tight defense but not extending too much beyond the center field.
Misagh Bahadoran, who scored his first international goal against Bahrain, sparked the Azkals run with speedy and skillful dribbling in the right flank challenging the Yemeni defense inside the box.
The play forced the Yemeni defense to break out and gave the Azkals open look at the goal but striker Javier Patiño, skipper Phil Younghusband, and Manny Ott failed to maximize their advantage.
Yemen's top keeper Mohammed Ebrahim held his ground protecting their goal as the Azkals controlled the flow in the first 48 minutes which ended in a scoreless deadlock.
With the Yemeni side extending its defense in midfield as well as imposing counter-attacks the Azkals' backline of Stephan Palla, Daisuke Sato, Jerry Ruben Lucena, and newcomer Woodland were threatened.
The Azkals finally broke the net in the 52nd minute on the tricky passing play by Bahadoran and Patiño in the right flank. Bahadoran passed the ball to Patiño who then returned the ball to the Fil-Iranian midfielder who curled and sent the ball past Ebrahim.
The Yemenis started to speed up their counter attacks but the Azkals' defenders took control of the defensive line preventing open lanes for the Yemen side.
While Fil-Spanish striker Patiño did not duplicate his goal against Bahrain, he sent a cross to Fil-Australian midfielder Iain Ramsay who sent home the Philippines' second goal in the 74th minute.
Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, a member of the FIFA TV and Marketing Committee, said the Philippines is playing better in every game.
"The better team won. Two down, one to go. And it's worth watching in the early hours of the morning as our team wins," he said.
"Bahadoran has scored two goals in two games so far. Congratulations to everyone - to Azkals' team manager Dan Palami and Coach Thomas Dooley. This is the new Azkals," the mayor.
The Azkals will next play Uzbekistan at home on September 8 at the Philippine Stadium. (HGD)