Uzbeks leapfrog China for quarters

Uzbekistan send China crashing out of Asian Cup with 3-0 win.

    Uzbekistan scored three late goals to defeat China 3-0, securing a trip to Jakarta for the Asian Cup quarterfinals at the expense of the 2004 finalists.

    China, which had only needed a draw to advance, failed to get past the group stage for the first time since 1980.

    With two wins and a loss, Uzbekistan ended one point behind Iran in Group C and will face Saudi Arabia on Sunday in Indonesia.

    Job done: Uzbekistan players celebrate qualifying for the quarterfinals [AFP]


    China took a cautious approach on a rain-drenched pitch at Malaysia's Shah Alam Stadium, creating a few chances in the first half that were foiled by Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

    Uzbekistan displayed its dominance after the break, but only took the lead in the 71st minute when the Chinese defenders failed to clear Maxim Shatskikh's header and allowed the Uzbek captain to blast in the loose ball into the net.

    Four minutes before the end, veteran midfielder Timur Kapadze capitalized on teammate Victor Karpenko's free kick to blast the ball in from close range.

    Uzbekistan completed its rout with a a goal from striker Alexander Geyrinkh deep in injury time.

    Playing under pressure

    Uzbek coach Rauf Inileyev commended his players for keeping their cool under pressure.

    "It was a very hard game but it would seem that the several substitutions and the tightening up of the defense after the break made the difference for us to win," he said.

    "The key factor was that we did a lot of analytical study of our opponent before the match, which I believe gave us the slight edge.''

    Zhu Guanghu, the target of criticism over an ongoing slide in China's fortunes, took sole responsibility for his team's ouster from Asia's flagship competition.

    "I'm really, really sorry about the result tonight and also for our exit from the group," the China coach said.

    "But the players tried their best.

    "I take the blame for our failure in not making the quarterfinals, although we have learned a lot of things from this tournament which we can use for the future."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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