Uzbekistan advance to WC qualifiers

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:53 IST

Uzbekistan staged a remarkable comeback on Wednesday to upset Kuwait 3-2 in Group A and advance to a play-off in the 2006 Asian World Cup qualifiers.

Uzbekistan advance to WC qualifiers

Tashkent :

Uzbekistan staged a remarkable comeback on Wednesday to upset Kuwait 3-2 in Group A and advance to a play-off in the 2006 Asian World Cup qualifiers. Needing a win for a spot in the play-off, Uzbekistan came back from being two goals down early in the first half. Despite high expectations, the Uzbek fans were stunned in the 16th minute.Fahad Al Hamad's run ended with his shot being blocked by Uzbek goalkeeper Evgene Safonov, but Bader Al Mutwa pounced on the rebound to put the visitors ahead. Kuwait doubled their lead in the 31st minute. Jarragh Al Ataiqi provided the cross and Bashar Abdul Aziz headed in.Thrown a lifelineUzbekistan were thrown a lifeline in the 41st minute.Alexander Geynrikh was brought down inside the penalty box and referee Mohd Salleh awarded a spot kick. Server Djeparov scored with relative ease to make it 2-1, before the break.In the second half, Uzbekistan pressed on and equalised in the 62nd minute.Their hard-working skipper Mirjalal Kasimov curled in an inviting corner kick, Maxim Shatskikh jumped highest and with greatest effect to make it 2-2. Remarkable comebackThe remarkable comeback continued. In the 76th minute Kasimov's corner fell short, but Shatskikh's lazy flick evaded goalkeeper Shehab Kankone. Substitute Anvarjon Soliev rushed in to head the ball into the net and Uzbekistan were ahead for the first time in the game. The hosts were jubilant, while the fans celebrated a dramatic turn around in fortunes. Desperate defenceWhat followed was predictable - 15 minutes of desperate defence in the face of wave after wave of Kuwaiti attacks. But the Uzbekis held their nerve to win 3-2 and advance to the play-off.Houghton's men finished third in Group A, behind leaders Saudi Arabia and second-placed South Korea. The play off between Uzbekistan and Bahrain will be held in the first week of September, to be played in a home and away format. The winners then face the fourth qualifiers from CONCACAF for a berth at Germany 2006. (AP)



Topics : Football
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