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Rediff.com  » Sports » Djeparov fires Uzbeks into Asian Cup last 8

Djeparov fires Uzbeks into Asian Cup last 8

January 12, 2011 21:43 IST

Uzbekistan became the first side to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals when they beat Kuwait 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to a superb strike from former Asian player-of-the-year Server Djeparov.

With the game locked at 1-1 with 25 minutes remaining and Kuwait threatening, Djeparov took advantage of the space afforded to him on the edge of the area to fire a first-time, left-foot shot which curled away from a diving Yaqoub Al Taher in the Kuwait goal.

- Asian Cup 2011 coverage

The result put Uzbekistan on six points in Group A after their second win of the tournament and left Kuwait on the brink of an early exit.

Server Djeparov celebrates after scoring the match-winnerAn entertaining second-half was in mark contrast to a drab first, which was witnessed by just 3,481 fans at the 22,000 capacity Al Gharafa Stadium on another chilly early evening in Doha.

The Uzbeks enjoyed the best of the first-half, producing a number of neat, short passing moves but, lacking pace in attack, they came to nothing.

They took the lead, however, four minutes before the interval in fortunate circumstances when Maksim Shatskikh's 22-metre free kick took a big deflection off a team mate.

The 32-year-old struck a curling right-foot effort which struck the back of a ducking Azizbek Haydarov, who was making a nuisance of himself in the defensive wall, which diverted the ball past a befuddled Al Taher.

Kuwait began the second half in a much brighter, energetic fashion with substitute Hamad Nayef going very close with a glancing header within 90 seconds of the restart before earning his team a penalty minutes later.

The dimunitive striker was brought down by a needless challenge from Anzur Ismailov on the edge of the area and Bader Al Mutwa sent Uzbek keeper Ignatiy Nesterov the wrong way from the penalty spot.

The equaliser brought the game to life and both sides had chances to take the lead before Djeparov, who was always a threat playing just off striker Alexander Geynrikh, struck the winner which was deserving of a bigger audience.

Hosts Qatar were scheduled to play China in the other Group A match later on Wednesday (1615GMT) with the east Asians able to join the Uzbeks in the last eight with victory.