Asian Cup: Qatar see off Uzbekistan in penalty shootout to make it to semis

Asian Cup: Qatar see off Uzbekistan in penalty shootout to make it to semis

DOHA: Defending champions Qatar faced a tough challenge before securing their passage to the semi-finals of the 2023 Asian Cup with a 3-2 penalty shootout victory against Uzbekistan at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor tonight (early morning Malaysian time).

Goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov’s own goal in the first half saw Qatar take the lead while Odoljon Xamrobekov equalised for Uzbekistan in the second half before the match was dragged into extra time and ultimately penalties.

In the thrilling penalty shootout, Meshaal Barsham emerged as Qatar’s hero by saving three penalties from Rustamjon Ashurmatov, Zafarmurod Abdirakhmatov, and team captain Jaloliddin Masharipov, after Otabek Shukurov and Shokhboz Umarov found the target easily.

Pedro Correia scored the winning penalty to confirm the victory for The Maroons after Akram Afif and Sultan Al-Brake had no trouble converting their shots, while Almoez Ali’s kick was saved and Almhadi Ali Mukhtar’s shot soared high.

In the semi-finals on Wednesday, Qatar will face three-time champions Iran, who eliminated Japan 2-1 in another quarter-final match earlier today.

In tonight’s action, Qatar coached by Bartolome Marquez began fiercely with a solid shot from close range by Afif in the 11th minute, but the attempt was saved by Yusupov.

Qatar’s relentless attacks finally paid off when a move from the right side saw a cross from captain Hasan Al Haydos deflect off Ashurmatov before Yusupov inadvertently knocked the ball into the net, allowing the opponents to take a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute.

Srecko Katanec’s men missed the chance to equalise when Otabek Shukurov’s shot went over the bar in the 31st minute.

Five minutes later, Qatari defender Mohammed Waad Albayati made a good block to deny Uzbekistan an equaliser through Azizbek Turgunboev’s close-range shot after receiving Oston Urunov’s cross from the left.

The score stood at 1-0 at the break in favour of the home team before Uzbekistan rallied with a commendable performance in the second half, with Barsham forced to work hard to save Shukurov’s header and a shot from Masharipov in the 48th minute.

However, Uzbekistan managed to find the sought-after goal when Xamrobekov’s left-footed shot from inside the penalty box could not be saved by Barsham in the 59th minute, with the goal boosting the team’s spirits in pursuit of victory.

Both teams then struggled to find the winning goal in regular playing time with the best chance of the night coming through Afif’s curling shot from the left side that narrowly missed the right post, late in the second half of extra time.

The score remained 1-1 until the end of the 30 minutes of extra time, leading to the winner being determined through a penalty shootout. – Bernama


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