Chris Wang catches up with some local football fans at the Asian Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
|High five: Uzbekistan players celebrate [AFP]|
Uzbekistan inflicted another embarrassing defeat on Malaysia in Asian Cup Group C, with the 5-0 victory eliminating the co-hosts from the competition after just two games.
Both sides needed a result after having lost their opening fixtures and it was Uzbekistan, boosted by the return of leading striker Maxim Shatskikh, that cruised to a 3-0 lead by halftime to put the result beyond doubt at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
The match waned in the second half, but the former Soviet state came alive in the dying minutes to rattle on another two goals that could easily have been three or four.
Combined with the 5-1 thumping by China in its opening match, the result eliminated Malaysia from the competition.
Unlike the spirited showings by other co-hosts Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, Malaysia looked comprehensively outclassed in both its fixtures thus far.
Uzbekistan lost its opening match 2-1 to Iran, but this result kept it alive in the competition, with everything to hinge on its final group game against China on Wednesday.
Uzbekistan took the lead in the 10th minute when a free kick was floated in from the right, somehow avoided the crowd of players in the area, and found Shatskikh unmarked on the back post, where he headed in.
The advantage was doubled on the half hour when the lively Timur Kapadze weaved past two poor tackling attempts and slotted the ball home.
The game was put beyond doubt just before the break as Ulugbek Bakaev converted the penalty he had won when Malaysian goalkeeper Azizon Kadir ill-advisedly clattered in to the Ukrainian who was moving away from the mouth of goal.
With head-to-head records rather than goal difference to separate sides equal on points in group standings, there was little incentive for Uzbekistan to push forward in the second half, and it was only in the closing minutes that they extended the lead.
On 85 minutes, a Pavel Solomin cross found substitute Aziz Ibragrimov in vast space at the back post where he calmly slotted home.
Uzbekistan also hit the bar late on, but made it 5-0 with a well-worked quick-passing move on the edge of the box that resulted in Shatskikh knocking home his second in the 89th minute