Uzbekistan closed the gap on Saudi Arabia at the top of Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 with an emphatic 5-0 win over Singapore on Monday.
Uzbekistan went into the game knowing any result other than a win would curtail their chances of finishing top of the group as they sat five points behind leaders Saudi Arabia.
Jalolidin Masharipov put his side in front inside six minutes after running behind the defence and meeting Ikromjon Alibaev’s overhead pass first-time on the half-volley from a tight angle.
The Shabab Al Ahli winger doubled his own tally and added his side’s second with a drilled effort from inside the box in the 34th minute after Singapore goalkeeper Mohamad Izwan Mahbud had parried the initial shot from Eldor Shomurodov into Masharipov’s path.
Shomurodov made it 3-0 just before the break. Dostonbek Khamdamov crossed from inside the box for his teammate to chest it down and strike home the third.
Uzbekistan continued their dominance after the restart, adding their fourth goal through Odil Ahmedov five minutes into the second half. The veteran was set up by substitute Khojiakbar Alidzhanov who made a fine solo run then played a reverse pass for Ahmedov who fired home from a narrow angle to add his name to the scoresheet.
Singapore’s woes were compounded in the final minute as defender Fandi Ahmad converted Ahmedov’s cross from the left flank past his own goalkeeper to make it 5-0 at the final whistle.
The win takes Uzbekistan to 12 points, two behind the group leaders. They face Yemen next, while Singapore who sit fourth with seven points, play Saudi Arabia in their next match.