Kyrgyzstan 3 Philippines 1: Lux hat-trick gives White Falcons third-place hope

By Ryan Benson 17 January 2019 346
Kyrgyzstan 3 Philippines 1: Lux hat-trick gives White Falcons third-place hope

Kyrgyzstan gave themselves a great opportunity of qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup knockout phase as one of the best third-placed teams after Vitalij Lux's hat-trick secured a 3-1 win over Philippines on Wednesday.

Defeats in their opening two Group C games left Kyrgyzstan in a difficult position, but they rallied against Sven-Goran Eriksson's men to secure third, finishing with three points and a neutral goal difference, which will likely be enough to see them through.

Kyrgyzstan were on top for most of the first period and were good value for their lead when Lux found the top-right corner, doing so again at the start of the second half.

The striker completed his treble late on, and although a fluke Stephan Schrock free-kick pulled one back for Philippines, Kyrgyzstan were worthy winners and must now wait and see if they have done enough to reach the last 16.

Kyrgyzstan took a deserved lead in the 24th minute, as Lux received a well-placed Akhlidin Israilov pass and struck a first-time effort into the top-right corner from 12 yards.

Israilov continued to be a nuisance, forcing Michael Falkesgaard into a save from distance 10 minutes later, before Lux struck the post from close range following a cut-back from the left.

Lux did double his tally early in the second half, sending an unstoppable strike into the net from 16 yards after a clever turn.

A close-range finish after a shot came back off the post allowed Lux to get his third of the day 13 minutes from time, though Eriksson's side did claw one back late on - Schrock's long-range free-kick going all the way in.

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Ryan Benson