Thursday, 24, May, 2018

Stunning Uzbekistan will face Vietnam in the final in Changzhou on Saturday after Zabikhillo Urinboev had given the Central Asians the lead before Hwang Hyun-soo levelled the score.

But, with Korea down to 10 men following Jang Yun-ho’s sending off, Ganiev’s thunderbolt put the Uzbeks back in the front 10 minutes into extra-time before Jasurbek Yakhshiboev added the third and Akramjon Komilov completed the scoring right on the final whistle.

The opening quarter of the game was nearing its conclusion when the Uzbeks fashioned out their first significant sight of goal as Dostonbek Turunov rose above the Korean defence, only for his attempt to flash across the target and go wide.

By the 33rd minute, Uzbekistan were in front as Javokhir Sidikov’s slide-rule pass found Urinboev in acres of space between the Korean central defenders before calmly slotting the ball beyond Kang Hyeon-mu.

It was a deserved lead for a side who were in the ascendancy throughout the opening 45 minutes, controlling the tempo of the half.

The game, however, turned in favour of the Koreans in the second period and, within 13 minutes of the restart, Kim Bong-gil’s side had levelled. Jang’s free-kick from the left angled towards the far corner of the six-yard box and captain Hwang rose highest to score.

Jang was involved in the action again with 16 minutes remaining, but this time for all the wrong reasons as his late challenge on goalkeeper Botirali Ergashev earned him his second booking of the match to leave the Koreans to play out the game with 10 men.

That advantage saw Uzbekistan go back on the front foot, but somehow Korea Republic held out with Kang in inspired form. With 10 minutes remaining, he touched Odiljon Xamrobekov’s long-range attempt onto the post and two minutes later he denied Dostonbek Khamdamov’s low shot.

Kang was eventually beaten with five minutes remaining when Yakhshiboev rolled his shot goalward, only for Lee Sang-min to slide in and hook the ball off the line. Uzbekistan pressed for the winner and Sidikov fluffed his attempt with just Kang to beat, leaving the game to go into an additional 30 minutes.

Uzbekistan eventually found their way through thanks to Ganiev’s unstoppable drive from 30 yards out that gave Kang no chance 10 minutes into extra time and, five minutes after the restart, Yakhshiboev slotted home to put the outcome beyond doubt. Komilov added the icing on the cake with the final kick of the game.

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