Uzbekistan advanced to the semi-finals of the Asian Cup for the first time with a 2-1 win over Jordan in Doha on Friday.
Both teams were aiming for their maiden semi-final berth at Asia’s premier soccer tournament and two goals in the space of three second-half minutes from Ulugbek Bakayev ensured his team will face either Australia or Iraq in the last four.
Jordan pulled one back through captain Bashar Bani Yaseen, but could not find an equaliser amid a frantic finale with plenty of goalscoring opportunities.
Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov made five changes to the side which drew 2-2 with China on Sunday, opting for a more defensive line-up, but after an uninspiring opening, it was Uzbekistan who created the first chance.
On 22 minutes, Aleksandr Geynrikh, who scored a sensational long-range goal against China, forced an acrobatic save from Amer Shafee in the Jordan goal with another thunderous strike from distance.
Four minutes later it was Jordan’s turn to attack when Ahmed Abdelhalim launched a left-footed free-kick toward goal that almost caught out Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov, but he was equal to the challenge and clattered into the post to make a crucial stop.
Moments later Hassan Abdel Fattah flashed a crisp volley just wide of the upright as Jordan began to enjoy the better of the play.
Uzbekistan could have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when a great cross from Sanzhar Tursunov picked out Geynrikh in the box but the striker’s shot was well saved by Shafee.
Uzbekistan emerged a new team after the break, and took the lead immediately after the restart when a fine in-swinging free-kick from Server Djeparov found Bakayev who glanced a header past Shafee.
Two minutes later it was 2-0, when Jasur Hasanov fired an excellent cross to Bakayev and the striker’s first-time shot gave Sahfee no chance.
Jordan pulled a goal back after 58 minutes when a Shadi Abu Hashhash header forced a fine save from Nesterov, but Bashar was on hand to slot home the rebound.
Uzbekistan goalkeeper Nesterov was substituted on the hour mark, replaced by Temur Juraev, after failing to recover from his collision with the post in the first-half.
The new gloveman was forced to make a great save almost immediately when Abdelhalim lashed a fierce left foot drive toward goal, but Juraev averted the danger.
Geynrikh was forced off with what appeared to be a knee injury on 68 minutes as Jordan continued to pile on the pressure.
But with more emphasis on attack, Jordan were left exposed at the back and Uzbekistan could have made sure of the result with eight minutes to play when Tursunov found himself clean through, but the winger could only fire his shot wide.