Abdiev Asliddin scored in each half as Uzbekistan beat India 3-0 in a crucial Group A encounter of the AFC U-29 Championship (Qualifiers) at the Al Arabi Stadium in Doha on Thursday.
Abdiev scored at the end of first half and beginning of the second, and set up another goal to hand his side three important points.
Uzbekistan are now nine points from three matches while India have three from as many outings.
“We played against a very good side,” India’s head coach Colm Joseph Toal said at the post-match press conference.
“The best part from our perspective is that we kept them going for the entire 93 minutes. We had some good spells, especially at the end of the first half. There was a penalty shout which I feel on another day may have been given.
“Against such a strong opposition you do need decisions to go your way and we were having a good spell at that time. Nevertheless, the stronger team won and I am happy that the boys never let their shoulders droop,” added Toal.
India looked the sprightlier of two sides in the opening exchanges. Daniel Lalhlimpuia sped down the inside right channel but failed to find Udanta inside the area as his cutback-pass was intercepted on its way.
Uzbekistan relied on the breaks and earned three corners in the first 15 minutes. All three did not trouble Indian custodian Vishal Kaith.
The highest ranked outfit in the group started using their physical advantage to get the better of their counterparts, but the Indian backline dealt with the pressure well.
The wings got on the offensive at every opportunity and one such occasion saw Udanta, put through by Germanpreet Singh, race down the left flank before going to a challenge inside the box. Referee Mukhtar Saleh Ali Al Yarimi of Yemen waved played on.
As the match neared half-time, the duo of Germanpreet and Udanta gave the Uzbeks a tough time combining superbly on the left wing. India created a lot of chances in the final few minutes of the first half.
Uzbekistan, on the other hand, got one and capitalised on it. Azimov Sardorbek cut inside full-back Gurba Gagrai on the left and fed Abdiev, who made no mistake from close range, stabbing home across goal into the bottom right corner.
The Uzbeks doubled their lead in the 51st minute when goal-scorer Abdiev turned provider sending in a teasing floater for Davlatov Bobir to poke home.
Eleven minutes later Abdiev capped a good display to score his second of the night, rising highest to a Azimov corner.
India came closest to reduce the deficit twice when substitutes SK Faiaz and Uttam Rai saw their efforts missing the target by a whisker and being saved brilliantly by the onrushing goalkeeper.
India play Turkmenistan next on October 12.
India: Vishal Kaith; Gurba Gagrai (Rupert Lamlang Nongrum – 45th), Pawan Kumar, Sajid Mohd. Dhot, Soraisam Pritam Kumar Singh; Lalrempuia Fanai, Souvik Das (C), Germanpreet Singh, ; Kumam Udanta Singh, Daniel Lalhlimpuia (SK Faiaz – 55th), Shaiborlang Kharpan (Uttam Rai – 77th).
Image: India's players pose for a picture before the start of the match
Photograph: AIFF Media