Jalaloddin Masharipov’s penalty was the difference at King Fahd International Stadium as Uzbekistan emerged 1-0 winners against Yemen on Friday in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
A hard-fought win for Uzbekistan keeps them in second place, two points behind Saudi Arabia whom they face on the final matchday, while Yemen remain bottom with five points before a last match against Palestine.
Yemen had succumbed to a 5-0 defeat when the two sides met in Tashkent in the reverse fixture, and Uzbekistan have since won three of their four subsequent matches, including a 5-0 defeat of Singapore in the previous match.
Uzbekistan got a golden chance to open the scoring in the 19th minute when Yemeni defender Emad Mansoor tripped young left-back Ibrohimkhalil Yuldoshev inside the box, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Talisman Masharipov stepped up and sent goalkeeper Mohammed Khairallah the wrong way, putting Uzbekistan in the lead.
Ahmedov nearly doubled the Uzbeks lead 10 minutes after the restart. Masharipov showed quick feet to get past two defenders down the left and chipped a cross for Ahmedov at the far post and the number nine powered a header that looked destined for the back of the net before Khairallah produced a fine reflex save to deny him.
Shortly after, Masharipov found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat after being set up by a fine Khojiakbar Alidzhanov chipped pass, but the Yemeni goalkeeper was once again alert and smothered the ball.
Uzbekistan thought they were about to double their advantage and cement the win when Mohammed Boqshan brought down Vagiz Galiulin inside the area and the referee awarded them a penalty. Ahmedov sent his shot from the spot into the bottom corner but Yemeni goalkeeper Khairalli produced a fine save to tip it behind for a corner.