Q-final: Penalty shootout win takes Uzbekistan through
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- Uzbekistan booked their place in the semi-finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 with a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Australia at Bunyodkor Stadium on Saturday with Ravshan Khaydarov’s side also securing a spot at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia later in the year.
Adrian Segicic’s penalty in the final round thumped back off the crossbar to leave Uzbekistan captain Umarali Rakhmonaliev to roll in the winning spot-kick for the home side after the game had ended in a 1-1 draw upon the completion of 120 minutes.
Gabriel Popovic had given the Australians the lead in the 76th minute before Zafarmurod Abdirakhmatov levelled three minutes later but with neither side able to score a second the game went to penalties, from where Uzbekistan advanced.
Australia had been let off with a warning in the third minute when Abdukodir Khuzanov headed over the bar after the defence’s failure to clear Abbosbek Fayzullaev’s corner, the ball looping up for the Uzbek defender to nod off target.
Fayzullaev’s shot wide for the hosts while Jed Drew’s attempt to catch out Otabek Boymurodov at the other end with an attempt to beat the goalkeeper at his near post hit the side netting.
The home side finished the half on the front foot with Rakhmonaliev playing Makhmudjon Makhamadjonov behind the Australian defence, but his attempt to slot the ball between Warshawsky and his post from a tight angle was pushed away for a corner.
Uzbekistan picked up where they left off after the interval, harrying the Australians deep in their own half and putting Trevor Morgan’s side under pressure.
Fayzullaev’s early attempt was blocked while Warshawsky threw himself at full stretch to keep out Sherzod Esanov’s drive from 35 yards that drew an excited response from the home crowd.
The Young Socceroos weathered that onslaught and by the hour mark were creating chances of their own. Popovic was denied at close range by Bormurodov before the goalkeeper was called upon to keep out Segicic’s attempt from outside the area.
Uzbekistan should have gone ahead with 19 minutes remaining, Fayzullaev missing the clearest of openings. Pulatkhuja Kholdorkhonov played an inch-perfect pass to the midfielder as he raced through the defence, but his shot flew wide to Warshawsky’s relief.
Five minutes later Australia were in front. Segicic’s corner was headed towards goal by Nectarios Triantis as he held off two defenders and, as the ball fell at his feet, Popovic swept in.
The advantage was to last only three minutes, however, as Uzbekistan fought back, Abdirakhmatov (pictured above, No 13) beating Warshawsky via the inside of his left post after the ball bounced kindly into his path off Shakhriyor Jabborov’s hip.
Uzbekistan pushed for the winner with Khusanov’s header hitting the top of the crossbar and Kholdorkhonov finding the side netting with a blistering strike before the game went into extra-time, where Alex Badolato and Segicic both went close for the Australians.
But after 120 minutes a closely fought clash went to spot-kicks and Uzbekistan ultimately prevailed.