Uzbekistan beat Vietnam to win AFC U-23 Championship

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Uzbekistan won the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship in dramatic fashion on Saturday after beating a brave Vietnam 2-1 after extra-time at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

In snowing conditions in China, it was the Uzbeks who got off to a dream start eight minutes into the final when Rustamjon Ashurmatov stooped low to meet Dostonbek Khamdamov’s corner with an emphatic header past Bui Tien Dung.

However, Vietnam equalised four minutes before halftime through a moment of brilliance from star man Nguyen Quang Hai, who curled home a sublime freekick from the edge of the box for his fifth goal of the tournament.

Uzbekistan had the better of the chances after the break with Javokhir Sidikov forcing Tien Dung into a smart save in the 54th minute, before Zabikhillo Urinboev wasted a good chance when blazed over on the rebound from six yards out.

The game then went into extra-time and, with the high stakes involved, it was understandable that the contest then evolved into a cagey affair.

Ha Duc Chinh came close to handing Vietnam the lead in the 115th minute when he met Luong Xuan Truong’s floated pass with a diving header that crept inches wide of the bottom corner.

But, just when it looked like Vietnam would be contesting a penalty shootout for the third game running, Andrey Sidorov made a telling contribution in dramatic fashion.

Moments after coming on, and with just a minute remaining in extra-time, Sidorov got in ahead of his marker to meet another Khamdamov corner with a firm left-footed finish over the head of Tien Dung, securing the title for the Uzbeks in the process.

VIETNAM: Bui Tien Dung, Pham Xuan Manh, Do Duy Manh, Tran Dinh Trong, Bui Tien Dung, Vu Van Thanh, Luong Xuan Truong, Pham Duc Huy (Ha Duc Chinh 58’), Phan Van Duc (Nguyen Phong Hong Duy 109’), Nguyen Quang Hai, Nguyen Cong Phuong (Bui Tien Dung 80’).

UZBEKISTAN: Botirali Ergashev, Abbosjon Otakhonov (Bobir Abdixolikov 103’), Dostonbek Tursunov, Rustamjon Ashurmatov, Akramjon Komilov, Azizjon Ganiev, Odiljon Xamrobekov, Jasurbek Yakhshiboev (Doniyorjon Narzullaev 46’), Javokhir Sidikov (Andrey Sidorov 118’), Dostonbek Khamdamov, Zabikhillo Urinboev.