Thursday, 20, June, 2024

FC Rostov striker Eldor Shomurodov's brace and an early Odil Ahmedov strike proved the difference as Uzbekistan beat Singapore 3-1 to add yet more momentum to their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group D campaign.

The outstanding Shomurodov struck twice after the break to ultimately seal the win for Vadim Abramov’s charges on a night when they were pushed all the way by their Southeast Asian hosts.

Uzbekistan’s success comes after last week’s comfortable 5-0 victory over Yemen 5-0 and leaves the table-topping White Wolves with six points to their name after three Group D matches.

Singapore, meanwhile, have four points from as many games, with the defeat representing their second successive reversal following a 3-0 loss away at Saudi Arabia on Matchday Three.

Having started the brighter of the two teams, Uzbekistan were the first to threaten with Jaloliddin Masharipov forcing Izwan Mahmud into a fine save on eight minutes.

Singapore eventually found their feet and they came close to taking the lead shortly after when a curling Hafiz Nor shot was superbly touched onto his post and away to safety by Uzbekistan goalkeeper Eldorbek Suyunov.

The deadlock was to be broken in the 15th minute though, Shanghai SIPG star Ahmedov unleashing a delightful free-kick which beat Izwan’s dive.

Dostonbek Khamdamov then flashed a header wide of the target, while Izwan denied Farrukh Sayfiev with a sprawling save and Khamdamov headed over from close-range.

Uzbekistan’s profligacy in the final third was to be punished on the stroke of half-time when – and somewhat against the run of play – Ikhsan Fandi rose highest to head home Shahdan Sulaiman’s cross and bring Singapore level.

Needing a response, Uzbekistan regained the lead six minutes after the break, this time Shomurodov converting Sayfiev’s cross courtesy of a powerful header which flew past Izwan.

Shomurodov then spurned a glorious opportunity to add a third for the visitors but, having rounded Izwan, the FC Rostov forward rolled the ball past the post with the goal gaping.

Uzbekistan continued to press, and the seemingly omnipresent Shomurodov smashed a 64th minute effort into the side netting before hitting the bar with a fierce drive moments later.

Shomurodov was to make amends in the final moments of a hard-fought encounter as he converted Ikromjon Alibaev’s pass to bag his second and Uzbekistan’s third.

Uzbekistan will continue their campaign on November 14 when they entertain fellow high-flyers Saudi Arabia, with Singapore now not set play until their meeting with Yemen five days later.

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