Q-finals: Uzbekistan power into semi-finals
Bangkok: Defending champions Uzbekistan bounced back from going a goal behind to hand the United Arab Emirates a 5-1 defeat at Rajamangala Stadium on Sunday to book their place in the semi-finals of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020.
Zayed Abdulla Alameri put the Emiratis in front in the 13th minute but goals from Ilkhomjon Alijanov, Islomjon Kobilov and Oybek Bozorov gave Uzbekistan a 3-1 lead at half time before Jasurbek Yakshiboev and Nurillo Tukhtasinov completed the win in the dying minutes of the match.
It had all started so promisingly for the UAE, who had been fastest off the blocks as Maciej Skorza’s side created a pair of chances inside the first two minutes, with Abduvakhid Nematov equal to the task when both Ali Saleh and Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi tried their luck.
And while Bobir Abdixolikov forced a fine save out of Mohamed Hasan Al Shamsi at the other end before Khojiakbar Alijonov shot narrowly wide, it came as little surprise when the West Asian nation took the lead with 13 minutes on the clock.
Zayed Abdulla Alameri latched on to Majid Ibrahim Salim’s arcing ball forward on the right before slamming a low shot beyond Nematov, with the ball crossing the line via the inside of the keeper’s right post.
The lead was to last just three minutes, however, as Uzbekistan levelled in style. Bozorov ran across the edge of the penalty area before laying off to Alijonov and his low drive flew beyond Al Shamsi.
The goal gave the Uzbeks a boost and, by the end of the half, they had total control.
Bozorov was brought down by Al Hamadi and referee Fu Ming pointed to the spot after consulting the Video Assistant Referee, allowing captain Kobilov to convert with a strike down the middle of Al Shamsi’s goal.
The Emirates were to be on the receiving end of further punishment four minutes before the interval when another long range strike left them with a mountain to climb.
With the midfield nowhere to be seen, Bozorov had time to turn and stride towards goal before unleashing a dipping curling strike from more than 25 yards that left Al Shamsi watching in admiration as it flew beyond him.
That three-goal salvo knocked the fight out of the UAE, with Alameri going closest in the second half with a shot on the run that flew over the bar.
Seconds later Yakshiboev saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Saeed Ali Suwaidan and Alijonov hit the post before Yakshiboev finally slotted home the fourth with five minutes left and Tukhtasinov hit the fifth in injury time as the Uzbeks set up a semi-final meeting with Saudi Arabia.