Friday, 01, March, 2024

Eldor Shomurodov and Otabek Shukurov combined to a devastating effect to help Uzbekistan achieve a 3-1 comeback win over neighbours Turkmenistan in Group E of the Preliminary Joint Qualification - Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ at the Ashgabat Stadium on Thursday.

Uzbekistan’s next game sees them welcoming Islamic Republic of Iran to Tashkent on Tuesday, while Turkmenistan travel to Hong Kong for their second game of the group.

The visitors had a golden chance to open the scoring inside 17 minutes when Oston Urunov dribbled into the byline down the left and pulled one back for the onrushing Khojiakbar Alijonov who struck it low and hard, and his effort looked destined for the bottom corner before Turkmen defender Shohrat Soyunov blocked it off the goal line.

Urunov came closest to opening the scoring for the Uzbeks in the first half when he pounced on a poor clearance by the home defence, striking on the half-volley with his left. His effort beat the Turkmen goalkeeper but struck the upright and went behind for a goal kick.

The hosts finally opened the scoring against the run of play with just one minute left in the first half as Meylis Durdyyev looked to deliver a cross from the left flank, but his miscued attempt found its way to the near post of the Uzbek goal, leaving goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov wrong footed and sending Turkmenistan into the dressing rooms with the advantage.

Uzbekistan drew level in the 57th minute when captain Shomurodov latched onto a ball down the right flank and delivered a cross that was taken first-time by midfielder Shukurov into the bottom corner for 1-1.

With 13 minutes to go, Shukurov doubled his tally, picking up Shomurodov’s pass inside the Turkmen penalty area and curling into the far corner to put Uzbekistan in front for the first time on the night.

Shomurodov nearly made it three as he broke free on a quick counter attack, running with the ball for 40 yards from the halfway line but his attempted finish with just the goalkeeper to bet was thwarted by Rahat Japarov.

The White Wolves’ captain got his goal in the first minute of added time, once more combining with Shukurov who set him up with a fine through pass, allowing the Cagliari forward to slot home his side’s third of the night and seal the three points.

Uzbekistan’s next game sees them welcoming Islamic Republic of Iran to Tashkent on Tuesday, while Turkmenistan travel to Hong Kong for their second game of the group.

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