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Asian Cup

  • January 18, 2015
  • • 09:00
  • • AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • Referee: B. Williams
  • • Attendance: 10871

Uzbekistan 3-1 Saudi Arabia: Rashidov double sets up South Korea quarter-final

Uzbekistan 3-1 Saudi Arabia: Rashidov double sets up South Korea quarter-final


The striker ensured his nation's progress to the last-eight by scoring two goals in a convincing victory

Uzbekistan eliminated Saudi Arabia from the Asian Cup with a 3-1 win in Melbourne on Sunday, booking a quarter-final against South Korea in the process.

Sardor Rashidov's goal inside two minutes gave the White Wolves an early lead, which was cancelled out by Mohammed Al Sahlawi's penalty in the 60th minute at AAMI Park.

The 2011 semi-finalists responded with two goals in the space of eight minutes, first from Vokhid Shodiev and then Rashidov, to seal second place behind China in Group B and earn a last-eight showdown with the Taeguk Warriors at the same venue on Thursday.

Uzbekistan made a dream start to the crunch match, when a lucky bounce allowed Bunyodkor's Rashidov to burst beyond the backline and dispatch a great finish from a tight angle past goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah.

Cosmin Olaroiu's Saudi side recovered from their bad start to dominate possession throughout the first half, but without carving out a clear-cut opening. 

The pressure continued to mount as the half wore on, Uzbekistan forced into making a series of desperate challenges and blocks to deny their opponents, Mirjalol Kasimov's men ultimately making it to the break with their slender advantage intact. 

Saudi Arabia finally made the breakthrough their dominance deserved just before the hour mark, when Vitaliy Denisov was harshly adjudged to have fouled Naif Hazazi inside the area. Australian referee Ben Williams pointed to the spot and Al Sahlawi tucked away the penalty to make it 1-1.

Having failed to mount a meaningful attack since taking the lead, conceding the equaliser sparked Uzbekistan into life and they came close to regaining their advantage within minutes of the restart. 

Abdulla Aldossary ended the promising counter-attack when he brought down goal-scorer Rashidov inches outside the box. 

Kasimov's men had the ball in the back of the net after the initial free-kick was spilled by Abdullah, only for Williams to questionably penalise the attacking side for interference during the build-up.

Uzbekistan weren't to be denied a second time though. With 20 minutes to go, fullback Shavkatjon Mulladjanov swung in a dangerous cross to the back post and substitute Shodiev rose highest to head it down and beyond the reach of Abdullah, sparking wild celebrations on the bench of the embattled side.

Those scenes were nothing compared to what greeted Uzbekistan's third in the 79th minute. Hugging the left touchline, Jasur Khasanov's pace on the counter earned him enough space to swing in an inch-perfect cross to the back post, where Rashidov demonstrated a cool head to control the delivery and then slot the ball home. 

This time Kasimov's staff and squad charged onto the field and toward the Saudi bench in celebration, which saw unused substitute Farrukh Sayfiev booked for his part in the incident.

With eight minutes left Saudi Arabia thought they'd pulled one back, goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov forced to punch away a point-blank header from Hazazi.

It was a close as the three-time Asian Cup winners came to getting back in it, as they bowed out at the group stage for the third time in the last four tournaments. 

Uzbekistan meanwhile, who rested veteran star Server Djeparov, will now tackle Australia's conquerors South Korea with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs.