Uzbekistan are through to the semi-finals of the Asia Cup thanks to a brace from Ulugbek Bakayev to down a spirited Jordan side.
Two of the tournaments surprise packages met in what was a thoroughly entertaining encounter in the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. There is only one place separating both sides in the FIFA World Rankings and it was evident as both cancelled each other out in the opening half.
Uzbekistan in truth started the brighter of the two. Vadim Abramov’s side were keeping possession well and were looking threatening down the flanks due to the pace of Jasur Hasanov and Sanzhar Tursunov. Jordan were cagey and were struggling to stride into any sort of rhythm. They did however carve out a terrific opportunity with ten minutes played following some clever interplay down the right which subsequently saw Ahmad Abdelhalim with plenty of space just inside the penalty area but fluffed his lines at the pivotal moment when he latched onto the delivery and sliced the ball out of play.
Aleksandr Geynirkh stung the palms of Amer Sabah with a wonderful long ranged shot that showcased the agility of the man in goal to parry the ball high to his left. Geynirkh was at it again but this time from close range as he latched onto a teasing ball from Tursunov down the right but the Jordan stopper did well make himself big and block the subsequent effort.
Jordan were felling their way back into the game and conjured up some neat football at times. They had stuttered somewhat in the opening quarter but were enjoying plenty more of the ball and constructing some decent play.
They nearly took the lead on 26 minutes thanks to Ahmad Abdelhalim who nearly caught out goalkeeper Ignatiy Nestervov at his near-post via a free-kick from the left-hand side.
Uzbekistan burst into life after the interval and took the lead thanks to Ulugbek Bakayev on 46 minutes. The front-man eluded his marker and was able to glance his head on Server Djeparov’s delivery from an indirect set-piece that had the Jordan players ball watching.
Bakayev grabbed his brace minutes later as he tucked in Hasanov’s low cross at the near post. Geynrikh oozed forward down the centre before diligently playing in Hasanov down the left whose delivery was met by the front-man to tap home. It was fantastic football by Abramov’s men who showed tremendous technical ability to construct the goal.
Jordan got themselves back into minutes before the hour mark thanks to the skipper Bashar Bani Yaseen who tucked in a rebound following Nesterov’s save from Amer Deeb’s header from an in swinging corner. The keeper did well with the initial save but unfortunately for him and his team was unable to deny the subsequent effort.
Jordan were looking dangerous as they pressed forward for that elusive equaliser and created numerous half chances. They did however leave themselves vulnerable on the break due to the pace of the White Wolves.
Tursunov had a wonderful chance with ten minutes to play to wrap the game up but failed to compose himself at the final moment after doing brilliantly to show a burst of pace to create the opportunity.
The men in white held on for victory and will now meet either Australia or Iraq in the last-four. A monumental night for football in Uzbekistan and the sheer delight and joy was evident at the final whistle.
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