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Azkals barge into Asian Cup finals for 1st time with come from behind win over Tajikistan

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By Agence France Presse

The Philippines took one to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time in the country’s history with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Tajikistan in Manila.

Tajikistan was looking good to make its continental debut after Akhtam Nazarov gave the team the lead after 64 minutes from the penalty spot.

Ten minutes later, Kevin Ingreso headed home to level for the Philippines who then made sure of the place in next year’s tournament with a last-minute penalty that was converted by Phil Younghusband.

That victory ensured that Yemen will finish second behind the Philippines and above Tajikistan to also qualify for a first-ever Asian Cup.

In the day’s other match, North Korea qualified for the 2019 Asian Cup with a 2-0 victory over Hong Kong in Pyongyang.

Needing just a point at the Kim Il Sung Stadium to book a place in the United Arab Emirates in January, first half goals from Jong Il Gwan and Pak Kwang Ryong sealed the place for the 1966 World Cup quarter-finalist.

It was Jorn Andersen’s final game in charge of the Koreans and the Norwegian coach heads home on a winning note after arriving in the country in 2016.

Hong Kong struggled to recover from an early injury to defender Helio Goncalves and failed to seriously trouble the hosts. The visitors finish third in Group A and miss the chance to return to the continental competition for the first time since 1968.

Lebanon tops the group with Malaysia languishing in last place.

Only two other spots at the tournament had yet to be allocated going into the final matchday of qualification with both of those in Group F.

The tournament will be the first to feature 24 teams, expanded from 16 at the 2015 edition which was hosted in Australia.