AFC U-23 Championship: Uzbekistan see off Korea Republic to make final

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Uzbekistan are through to the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship final after beating Korea Republic 4-1 after extra-time at the Kunshan Stadium on Tuesday.

It was the Uzbeks who opened the scoring three minutes after the half-hour mark, when Zabikhillo Urinboev was picked out by Javokhir Sidikov’s lovely through-pass and calmly finished past Kang Hyeon-mu.

However, the South Koreans pulled level in the 58th minute when centre-back Hwang Hyun-soo ventured forward for a freekick and met the left-wing delivery with a deft header into the far corner.

But, 16 minutes from time, they were dealt a huge blow when they were reduced to ten men, after Jang Yun-ho was sent off for a second bookable offence.

They did well to keep the opposition at bay for the remainder of the 90 minutes, taking the game into extra-time.

Nonetheless, Uzbekistan reclaimed the lead in the 100th minute through a moment of brilliance by Azizjon Ganiev, who picked up possession 30 yards out from goal and unleashed a stunning swerving effort that Kang got his fingertips too but just could not keep out.

And from that point, there was always only ever going to be one winner as the numerical difference proved telling.

A third goal arrived for the Uzbeks in the 110th minute when Dostonbek Khamdamov threaded a neat ball to release Jasurbek Yakhshiboev, who made no mistake in clipping his shot into the back of the net.

And, right at the death, another neat pass by Khamdamov found the overlapping Akramjon Komilov, who sent a lob from a near-impossible angle over Kang and in off the post to complete an emphatic victory for his side.

Uzbekistan will now meet Vietnam in Saturday’s final at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre, while the South Koreans have the consolation prize of third place to vie for against Qatar a day earlier.

UZBEKISTAN: Botirali Ergashev, Abbosjon Otakhonov (Doniyorjon Narzullaev 94’), Dostonbek Tursunov, Rustamjon Ashurmatov, Akramjon Komilov, Azizjon Ganiev (Oybek Rustamov 109’), Odiljon Xamrobekov, Jasurbek Yakhshiboev, Javokhir Sidikov (Bobir Abdixolikov 113’), Dostonbek Khamdamov, Zabikhillo Urinboev.

KOREA REPUBLIC: Kang Hyeon-mu, Park Jae-woo, Lee Sang-min, Hwang Hyun-soo, Lee Gun, Choe Jae-hoon (Cho Yu-min 78’), Jang Yun-ho, Yoon Seung-won (Kim Moon-hwan 46’), Han Seung-gyu (Go Myeong-seok 94’), Cho Young-wook, Lee Keun-ho.

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