Impressive Uzbekistan secured their place in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup quarter-finals with a 5-0 win over Kuwait at the Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday. The victory meant Vietnam were also assured of their knockout stage spot, with the two sides to meet on Tuesday to decide the Group C winners in a repeat of the 2018 final.
Uzbekistan asserted themselves from the get-go, and their persistence paid off in the 32nd minute when Alibek Davronov dived to head home Muhammadkodir Hamraliev’s cross to break the deadlock. Uzbekistan extended their lead just four minutes into the second half when Jasurbek Jaloliddinov’s free-kick was tapped home by Hamraliev.
With their tournament hopes hanging by a thread, Kuwait began to push forward only for Uzbekistan to further widen their lead following a counterattack in the 55th minute which saw Jaloliddinov supplying yet another assist with Hojimat Erkinov converting.
Kuwait were dealt another blow in the 71st minute when substitute Hamad al-Taweel was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Abdurauf Buriev following a VAR review. Uzbekistan kept pushing and earned a penalty in the 86th minute after Diyor Jiyanov’s strike hit Khaled al-Fadhli’s arm with Diyor Kholmatov slotting home.
Norchaev then missed from the penalty spot in added time after al-Mehtab brought down Erkinov in the box but the forward redeemed himself just moments later, finishing Zafarmurod Abdirahmatov’s pass from close range.
Meanwhile, Vietnam defeated Malaysia 2-0.
Goals either side of the break gave Vietnam the win, with the Southeast Asian side to face Uzbekistan on Tuesday to decide the group winners in a meeting between the 2018 finalists. Vietnam took lead six minutes before half-time when Van Khang sent his left-footed curling free-kick into the top corner.
Vietnam hit on the break with substitute Bui Vi Hao beating Mohamed Ubaidullah for pace before being taken down by the defender, forcing referee Mooud Bonyarifard to award a penalty kick which Minh Khoa converted.
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