Uzbeks end Jordan's dream run

Untested striker Ulugbek Bakaev scores two quickfire goals as Uzbekistan reach their first Asian Cup semi-final.

    Jordan's Bashar Bani Yaseen celebrates his goal, but alas, his team lost Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals [Reuters]

    Two goals in four minutes from Ulugbek Bakaev put Uzbekistan into the Asian Cup semi-finals for the first time as they ended previously-unbeaten Jordan's run at Khalifa Stadium in Doha.

    The match sprang to life in the opening 60 seconds of the second half when striker Bakaev, one of five new starters for Uzbekistan, stole away from his marker to knock in a free kick from Server Djeparov with his shoulder.

    Four minutes later it was 2-0 after Bakaev again reacted quicker than the Jordan defence to convert Jasur Khasanov's cross from the left.

    Jordan hit back when captain Bashar Bani Yaseen, who appeared to lose some teeth in an accidental clash in the first half, smashed the ball home from close range in the 58th minute after Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov parried a close-range header.

    Nesterov, who received lengthy treatment in the first half after a clash with his own player, left the field shortly after Jordan's goal and substitute keeper Temur Juraev did well to block Ahmad Abdelhalim's shot soon after coming on.

    Roared on by a noisy, mostly Jordanian contingent in the 16,073 crowd, the Middle East side pushed for an equaliser while the Uzbeks looked rattled and gave away possession frequently before recovering to calmly play out the final stages of Friday's match.

    "Big, experienced player, I know him well," Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov said of Bakaev.

    "I give him a chance, he scores two goals."

    Abramov said his team's ambition was to win the Asian Cup for the first time.

    "Yes, why not? From first time I came to a press conference, I tell you we come to win this tournament," he said.

    Uzbekistan next play the winners of Saturday's match between Australia, at 26 the highest-ranked side in the tournament, and holders Iraq at Al Sadd.

    Jordan's defeat came after they drew with Japan and beat Saudi Arabia and Syria in the group stages.

    "I am very proud of my players for what they have delivered," Jordan coach Adnan Hamad said.

    "They lost focus and concentration in the first five minutes of the second half, but after that we scored and got back on track and were very near to a draw. The determination was there but they were affected by fatigue.

    "Fatigue and exhaustion was there, and we are missing four first-team players. Anyway we're out with our heads held high."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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