MANILA, Philippines – Sarina Bolden unleashed a hat trick as the Philippine women’s football team stormed back against Indonesia, 4-1, to clinch its second straight semifinal appearance in the AFF Women’s Championship on Sunday, July 10, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
After conceding their first goal of the tournament, the Filipinas kept their poise and came out charging in the last 45 minutes.
“It didn’t scare us to be down, we’re proud we got back from that,” said Bolden, who scored three goals in a dazzling 10-minute span.
Indonesia gave the hosts an early scare. After the Philippines’ Chantelle Maniti passed the ball back to goalkeeper Inna Palacios to reset the play, Indonesia’s Carlo Bio Pattinasarany suddenly closed down the keeper and poked home the ball to give them a surprising 1-0 lead in the 37th minute.
The Philippines, though, came out with more energy in the second half.
Team captain Tahnai Annis equalized at the 46’ mark after she chested down Sofia Harrison’s cross for her first touch, then smashed the ball past Prihatini, Indonesia’s goalkeeper, for her second touch.
Sara Eggesvik and Bolden continued the Philippine comeback following a wonderful combination play at the 57th minute to snatch the lead.
Eggesvik dribbled away from multiple defenders and found her teammate inside the box as Bolden registered her first goal with an easy tap in.
Bolden’s second goal at the 63’ mark was similar to Annis’ equalizer as she controlled Jaclyn Sawicki’s cross with a neat touch before firing in from close range.
Katrina Guillou then grabbed an assist in the 66’ mark as she created a brilliant through ball to help Bolden complete her hat trick.
The Filipinas’ latest triumph extended their winning streak to four games, while bringing their group stage points tally to 12 with a +15 goal difference.
Indonesia, meanwhile, bowed out of contention with a cellar-dwelling 1 point and a -11 goal difference in Group A.
Before conceding the shocking opening goal, the Filipinas were taking turns in testing Prihatini, but the hosts were unable to break the deadlock.
Annis had her shot saved at the 7’ mark, while Jessica Miclat’s long-range shot six minutes later did not produce a goal.
Bolden and Anicka Castañeda joined in the shooting festivities, but both players failed to break the deadlock as the Philippines entered halftime with a 1-0 deficit.
Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic made three substitutions at halftime as he introduced Carleigh Frilles, Eggesvik, and Guillou to change the momentum of the match.
It turned out to be a tactical masterclass from the Australian head coach as the three substitutes provided a jolt of energy off the bench and gave the Philippines the boost it needed.
Camille Rodriguez, another second-half substitute, had a dynamic cameo as she produced two beautiful passes late in the game, but Bolden and Isabella Flanigan each missed their chances to extend their 4-1 lead.
The Philippines will play Thailand for its final match in the group stage on Tuesday, July 12, at 7 pm, at the same venue. – Rappler.com