Friday, December 3, 2010

Singapore 1 - 1 Philippines: Late Greatwich strike shocks Singapore

Chris Greatwich claimed a spectacular injury time equaliser to earn the Philippines a surprise but well-deserved 1-1 draw with three-time champions Singapore in Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium in group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Thursday evening.

The England-born midfielder popped up to push home James Younghusband's late cross to earn the Philippines a rare point in the final stages of the competition.

Aleksandar Duric looked like he had done enough to earn Singapore the win with his goal in the 65th minute but Greatwich scored with one of the last kicks of the game to earn the Philippines a point their play throughout the 90 minutes had deserved.

Singapore struggled to impose themselves against a tricky opponent who refused to roll over and the Filipinos left the field with their reputation enhanced after qualifying for the AFF Suzuki Cup finals for the first time since 2007.

Simon McMenemy's team refused to be overawed by a Singapore side that featured many of the squad that had won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2007.

Singapore threatened as early as the ninth minute when Jumaat Jantan tried his luck from long range and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge could only gather the ball at the second attempt.

But rather than sparking a period of dominance for the former champions, it was the Philippines who looked the more likely to create the first opening in the subsequent exchanges.

The Younghusband brothers James and Phil were at the heart of much of their side's enterprising play and it was a fine run from Phil that opened up play to allow Ray Jonsson to fire off what was ultimately wide of the target in the 16th minute.

Noh Alam Shah's frustration in front of goal started as early as the 17th minute when, left one-on-one with Etheridge, the goalkeeper did enough to deflect his effort wide for a corner. Two minutes later, Alam Shah's effort evaded the attentions of Etheridge but was just wide of the target.

As Alam Shah miss-fired in front of goal, Shahdan Sulaiman presented the most serious threat to the well-drilled Philippine defence, pushing his 31st minute effort off target when he had time to pick his spot.

With four minutes left in the half, Shahdan thought he had scored when his shot looped over Etheridge only for Anton del Rosario to acrobatically clear the ball before it crossed the line.

Singapore continued to labour in the early exchanges of the second half and they could have gone a goal behind if Emelio Caligdong had shown more composure on the hour mark, but the midfielder dragged his shot across the face of goal from the edge of the area.

Five minutes later, though, the Singaporeans finally broke through. Alam Shah somehow managed to bundle his way to the bye-line before curling the ball over the defence and onto the head of Duric at the far post.

The former champions could have doubled their advantage with five minutes remaining only this time Duric saw his close range attempt deflected wide by Rob Gier.

That reprieve gave the Philippines the opportunity to salvage something from the game and, as the Singaporean defence failed to clear the ball as time ticked away, Greatwich struck a goal that will be long remembered within Philippines football.

Source - AFF Suzuki Cup 

Avramovic: we paid price for profligacy

Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic was left ruing a string of missed chances as the three-time AFF Suzuki Cup winners were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by tournament minnows the Philippines at My Dinh Stadium on Thursday evening.

Chris Greatwich scored in the fourth minute of injury time to pick up a point for the Philippines in an enthralling encounter from which Simon McMenemy's team fully deserved a draw.

Aleksandar Duric looked to have given Singapore the three points with his 65th minute header and the Bosnia-born striker should have put the result beyond doubt five minutes from time when he saw his close range attempt cleared by the Philippine defence.

That was one of several goalscoring opportunities spurned by Singapore throughout the 90 minutes and Avramovic was criticial of his team's application in front of goal.

"Congratulations to the Philippines because they fought for 90 minutes and took two points away from us," said the Serb coach.

"It was a game of many missed chances and the last three minutes were because we were unable to finish the game professionally.

"I'm just disappointed that we didn't take half of the chances we created. It was a total loss of concentration and form in front of goal.

"There were many situations were players were in position to go for a shot but took extra touches and we were punished for that.

"We were leading 1-0 after a hard first half and opening to the second half; we have thrown away all our hard work in the last two minutes."

Avramovic had set his sights on not only collecting three points against the Philippines but also scoring as many goals as possible in an attempt to guarantee an advantage over Myanmar and Vietnam.

"It's become more complicated," he said. "(The Myanmar match) is like every other match, we must fight for it and use our heads."

In contrast, Philippine coach McMenemy was delighted with the result and was quick to praise his players' performances, both in defence and in front of goal.

"We just worked on trying to make ourselves very difficult to beat because we know we always carry the threat," said the 32-year-old Englishman.

"We worked very hard to keep our shape, to keep our discipline. We got lucky with a couple of minutes to go.

"The passion these boys have shown is just unbelievable. The fact that we were able to match Singapore speaks a lot about the work we've done. It was a really good team performance.

"We'll be enjoying this one because this was by no means an easy game. We deserve this result but it's going to be difficult from here."

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