Four goals and an assist in one half. Let’s add that to Mark Hartmann’s resume.
Hartmann’s more-than-impressive first half performance paved the way for the Azkals’ biggest win in the year, thus, as the Pinoy footballers went on to trample the 199th ranked Papua New Guinea National Football team, 5-0, Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum football field.
Philippine coach Thomas Dooley sent in his men in the 4-4-2 formation he utilized in the recently concluded PFF Peace Cup. The first of the English-Filipino striker’s four goals came in the second minute. Finding himself in prime position with an open look after receiving the ball from Misagh Bahadoran, Hartmann was able to kick one in from beyond the penalty box, with keeper Albert Mesulam unable to dive in time to deflect the ball.
Bahadoran himself found himself with the means to give the Azkals their second goal three minutes later, getting an open look from the flank, but was caught offside just after mailing the goal attempt.
Hartmann’s second goal came two minutes later. After recovering the ball from a botched cross from Phil Younghusband, Hartmann managed to connect with the ball just at the right moment to send another one flying past Mesulam, completing the brace and giving the Azkals the 2-0 lead after only ten minutes of play. And nine minutes later, Hartmann bagged the hat trick, scoring his third goal of the night after receiving another assist from Bahadoran, charging down the left wing. After only nineteen minutes, the Azkals found themselves up by a staggering 3-0.
In the following minute Papua New Guinea’s veteran forward Gari Moka found himself staring down the pitch and fresh-faced Filipino goalkeeper Patrick Deyto, but the goal attempt hit the bar and bounced back to his feet. Moka managed to mail one more kick, but the ball this time sailed past the post. The New Guineans’ took advantage of the Azkals’ spotty defense, getting in a few more goal attempts, but none managed to kiss the net. Comfortable with the lead, Thomas Dooley’s boys eventually readjusted, focusing on finding ways to cut the New Guineans’ passing lanes.
The much coveted fourth goal came in the forty-first minute for the Azkals. After sailing past the New Guineans’ defense, Phil Younghusband managed to get in position in the penalty area to receive the lob from Hartmann, and quickly flick the ball past the hapless Mesulam to bag his thirty-eighth international goal. Eager to fire back just before the end of the first half, Tommy Semmy managed to escape the Filipino defenders in the following minute, but the ball only ended up in the arms of Filipino goalkeeper Deyto.
After another couple of botched shots from both squads, the ball once again found itself at the heels of the hungry Mark Hartmann. Just before the end of added time, Hartmann found himself alone before the penalty area, and managed to send another one flying past the visibly frustrated Mesulam to bag his fourth goal and the Azkals’ fifth of the half and the night.
At the half, among those Dooley sent in were veteran defender Anton del Rosario and Paolo Bugas, a standout winger from college powerhouse Far Eastern University, in only his second cap for the Philippines. Midfielder Chieffy Caligdong, once a familiar face in Azkals fixtures until a sudden injury, was denied his return to the pitch despite earning a spot in Dooley’s lineup.
Early in the second half, Hartmann got the chance to bag a rare fifth goal, but was caught offside just before releasing the volley. At the fifty-ninth minute, Hartmann was subbed out for James Younghusband.
The New Guineans gained another easy opportunity to score in the sixty-third minute, after Joshua Talau was awarded the free kick just inches from the penalty area after being tackled by the Azkals’ Rob Grier. Though the kick sent the ball into just the right trajectory for a goal, the Azkals’ Deyto managed to deflect the ball and deny the visitors’ their first goal. The New Guineans failed to deliver after the corner kick.
Still comfortable with their edge, the Azkals took a less aggressive counter-attacking approach, with their defenders also making sure to thwart the New Guineans’ attacks. Neither team was able to score in the remainder of the half. The Azkals walked away with the 5-0 blowout win, their biggest since an 8-0 trouncing of Cambodia last year.
RP – 5
PNG – 0
Hartman – 2’, 10’, 19’, 48’
P. Young – 41’
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