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Qatar beat Uzbekistan on penalties to reach Asian Cup semis

By AFP

February 3, 2024 11:46 PM


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Hosts and holders Qatar moved into an Asian Cup semi-final against Iran after beating Uzbekistan 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham was the hero for Qatar after saving three penalties in the shootout.

Pedro Miguel dispatched their final penalty in front of almost 60,000 fans at the tent-like Al-Bayt Stadium north of Doha.

Qatar also missed twice in the shootout, with Almahdi Ali blazing horribly over.

Qatar had won their four previous games at the tournament but they were given a stiffer test by Uzbekistan, who some had tipped as dark horses to lift the trophy.

Qatar opened the scoring midway through the first half when captain Hassan Al-Haydos forced an own goal from goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov.

But Uzbekistan levelled just before the hour when Odiljon Hamrobekov broke free of the Qatar defence and drilled a shot into the corner of the net.

Qatar's opponents in the semi-final will be Iran, who beat pre-tournament favourites Japan 2-1 in the day's earlier quarter-final.

Qatar won the Asian Cup for the first time in 2019 and they went into the game on a run of 11 straight wins in the competition.

Forward Akram Afif was looking for his fifth goal of the tournament and he thumped an early left-footed shot that Yusupov managed to parry away.

Qatar kept up the pressure and broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when Haydos wriggled clear in the box and hit a shot from a tight angle that Yusupov fumbled into his own net.

The goal spurred Uzbekistan into their first attack of the game and Otabek Shukurov almost scored when his deflected shot looped up over goalkeeper Barsham.

Qatar then had Mohammed Waad to thank when the defender threw himself at a last-gasp block to keep out Azizbek Turgunboev's goal-bound effort.

But Qatar continued to threaten at the other end and Yusupov kept out a point-blank header from Almahdi Ali with half-time approaching.

Jaloliddin Masharipov drove a shot just wide as Uzbekistan made a bright start to the second half and they got their reward with the equaliser minutes later.

Hamrobekov latched onto a loose ball and surged into the box before hitting his shot across the goalkeeper and in.

Both teams had chances to snatch dramatic winners in second-half injury time, and Qatar's Almoez Ali also went close as extra time drew to a close.


AFP


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