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Friday, January 7, 2011
Hosts Qatar crash to Asian Cup defeat

Qatar's Asian Cup campaign got off to the worst possible start as second-half goals from Odil Akhmedov and Server Djeparov saw Uzbekistan clinch a deserved victory at Khalifa Stadium in Doha.

The opening ceremony may have been a spectacular affair but there were few fireworks on the pitch from the hosts, who fell behind to Akhmedov's stunning strike before the hour mark.

Djeparov then wrapped up the Group A encounter in the 76th minute when he took advantage of a defensive error to fire home.

Fabio Cesar headed Hussein Yasser's inviting cross wide at the far post with just four minutes gone but that stung Uzbekistan into action, with the visitors wasting a host of chances to take the lead.

Two minutes later, Djeparov latched onto a long ball down the right and his cutback picked out an unmarked Alexander Geynrikh in the box but, to the forward's dismay, his first-time shot struck the angle.

Geynrikh raced clear immediately afterwards but squared the ball to Jasur Khasanov when he would have been better served driving at goal and the winger's effort was smothered by Qasem Burhan.

Khasanov then saw a strike from the far side of the box deflected wide in the 18th minute after Burhan had completely missed Maksim Shatskikh's low cross but although Uzbekistan enjoyed the upper hand for the rest of the half, they were unable to seriously threaten.

The visitors were almost made to pay with seven minutes left when Sebastian Soria was hacked down 25 yards out and Fabio was unfortunate to see his curling, left-footed free-kick come back off the post with keeper Ignatiy Nesterov beaten.

Qatar nearly went in front three minutes into the second period when Nesterov failed to deal with a long ball under pressure from Soria but Sakhob Juraev scrambled back to clear Yasser's delicate lob, injuring himself in the process.

Khasanov then saw a long-range effort tipped over by Burhan and the resultant corner indirectly led to Uzbekistan's spectacular opener in the 58th minute.

Azizbek Haydarov eventually laid the ball into Akhmedov's path 35 yards out and the midfielder unleashed a ferocious first-time drive that flew beyond a despairing Burhan, crashed against the underside of the bar and bounced over the line.

The Qatar keeper did well to deny Sanjar Tursunov following a swift Uzbekistan counter before Djeparov doubled the lead with 14 minutes to go when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up.

Nesterov got down low to hold substitute Yusef Ahmed's shot from the edge of the box as Qatar tried in vain to find a way back into the contest.




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