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Yangon: Global FC of the Philippines kept themselves top of 2017 AFC Cup Group F on Wednesday thanks to a 4-2 victory away to Myanmar side Magwe FC.

Yet, in spite of a dominant 67.4 percent of possession and 11 shots to their opponents’ three, it was the hosts who had led 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes in Yangon.

Eventually, though, Global’s overall control of the tie proved decisive in recording what on paper appears a relatively comfortable victory.

Global dominance brings meagre opportunities

For all their willingness to concede possession, it wasn’t until late in the tie that Magwe were truly tested by their opponents.

Global played just 16.2 percent of the tie in their own defensive third, able to push high up the pitch against an opponent unwilling to take attacking risks. 

Yet, despite that advantage, they managed just five shots on goal prior to the 70 minute mark of which just two came from inside the penalty area. Just one effort was registered on target.

Despite limiting their opponents until the late stages, defensive errors eventually proved costly for Magwe with all four goals conceded in some way preventable.

Until the game’s closing period, it had been a remarkable performance from the host side in restricting their opponents to few openings in front of goal.

Global struggle to move ball into final third

Enjoying large amounts of possession is undoubtedly a positive, but it is also crucial to ensure that the game is being played in the right areas of the pitch. For Global, it was a struggle early on to move the ball into the final third. 

In the first-half the Filipino side enjoyed a remarkable 71.6 percent of possession. However, 59.2 percent of the game was played in the middle third of the pitch. As mentioned above, chances were also few and far between.

It was a struggle for Global to play out from the back, with centre-back duo Wesley Santos and Amani Aguinaldo making a combined 128 passes. Of those, 36 were to each other and a further 19 to their full-backs.

The Global back four saw more of the ball than any other players on the pitch, both a credit to Magwe’s midfield pressure and a real area of concern for the visitors.

Linn Kyaw Swar stars in Magwe's defensive line

For all Global’s attacking struggles, much credit must be given to the way Magwe defended for the first 70 minutes of the encounter.

The Myanmar side kept pressure on to limit Global’s ability to play out from the back and, with their opponents seeking to play through the middle, kept a narrow and compact defensive line.

Centre back Linn Kyaw Swar was at the heart of the defensive effort, making a phenomenal 11 recoveries, eight interceptions and nine clearances over the course of 90 minutes (shown above).

While the scoreline may suggest that Magwe struggled defensively, the closing period of the game does not reflect their previous effort. But for the contribution of Linn, it could easily have been a much simpler game for Global from the start.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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