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Football: Uzbekistan draw 1-1 in Jordan in World Cup qualifying playoff

Uzbekistan (blue) drew 1-1 with Jordan in Amman ahead of next week’s second leg of their World Cup playoff. The winners will face a South American side for a place at Brazil 2014. Photos: WSG.

Uzbekistan (blue) drew 1-1 with Jordan in Amman ahead of next week’s second leg of their World Cup playoff. The winners will face a South American side for a place at Brazil 2014. Photos: WSG.

September 6, 2013: Server Djeparov capped a captain’s display with a crucial first-half equaliser as Uzbekistan edged a step closer to a maiden FIFA World Cup appearance after deservedly claiming a 1-1 away draw in Friday’s playoff first leg against Jordan at King Abdullah International Stadium in Amman.

 

Both sides are chasing a first appearance at the finals having finished third in their respective groups during the final-round group stage.

 

Uzbekistan enjoyed the better start in Amman only for Mus’ab Al Lahham to break the deadlock against the run of play 15 minutes before half-time as the midfielder started and finished an eye-catching team move.

 

But the lead lasted just five minutes as Djeparov capped a fine individual display to hand Mirdjalal Kasimov’s side the advantage ahead of next week’s second leg in Tashkent with the winner advancing to an intercontinental playoff with South American opposition in November.

 

Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov is confident his side can win the second leg in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov is confident his side can win the second leg in Tashkent.

“Jordan are a good team and they showed that,” Kasimov said. “They had fantastic support and that helped them play well, but we were very good and in the first half we were the better side.

 

“We achieved the minimum goal and now I believe we’ll do our job in Tashkent and qualify for the next round. It will be decided in Tashkent, but we’ll play for our supporters and I believe we’ll qualify.”

 

Uzbekistan made a bright start with captain Djeparov instrumental for the visitors, although it was midfield partner Odil Ahmedov who was the first to test goalkeeper Amer Shafi after 13 minutes with the Jordan custodian acrobatically pushing a speculative long-range effort over the crossbar.

 

But Jordan recovered from their slow start and opened the scoring 15 minutes before the break as Al Lahham surged towards the edge of the Uzbekistan penalty area. After a swift exchange of passes involving Hasan Abdel Fattah left the visiting defence flat-footed, the onrushing midfielder coolly slipped the ball under goalkeeper Murotjon Zukhurov from just inside the six-yard area.

 

The lead lasted just five minutes as the lively Jasur Khasanov found Djeparov charging into the penalty area and the Uzbekistan captain swept home the perfectly weighted pullback with Shafi only able to help the weak shot into the bottom corner.

 

Uzbekistan finished the opening 45 minutes on top as Shafi took no chances and pushed a vicious swerving strike from Khasanov over the crossbar just before half-time before unconvincingly palming away a similar rising effort from Djeparov in stoppage time.

 

Chances were at a premium at the start of the second half although Uzbekistan remained the dominant side with Jordan struggling for ideas in the final third to the frustration of the majority of the 17,000 crowd.

 

Uzbekistan finally fashioned a half chance with just under a quarter of an hour remaining as Timur Kapadze flashed an unmarked header wide of the post from Khasanov’s right wing corner before Djeparov shot straight at Shafi soon after.

 

Jordan waited until the last minute of normal time to finally fashion an effort on target as a last-ditch sliding block from Uzbekistan defender Anzur Ismailov denied substitute Odai Al Saify before Oday Zahran flashed an effort over the crossbar in stoppage time.

 

Meanwhile, in various international friendlies played on Friday, Korea Republic beat Haiti 4-1 to give the World Cup qualifiers their first win under new coach Hong Myong-bo, 44, who was able to call on his Europe-based stars. Bayer Leverkusen’s Son Heung-min scored twice, while Koo Ja-cheol and Lee Kuen-ho also netted. China beat Singapore 6-1 at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou.

 

In Saitama, CSKA Moscow forward Keisuke Honda came off the bench to drive AFC Asian Cup winners Japan to a 3-0 win over Guatemala. Honda entered the game as a half-time substitute and opened the scoring five minutes later, heading home a Yuto Nagatomo cross at the far post.

 

Fellow substitute Masato Kudo then doubled Japan’s lead in the 69th minute, before 2009 AFC Player of the Year Yasuhito Endo rounded off the scoring with a deflected free-kick in the 76th minute after a foul on Honda on the edge of the area.

 

“In the first half Guatemala were very compact and didn’t allow us much space,” Honda said. “It wasn’t easy, but in the second half we managed to find the gaps in their defence and exploit them.”

 

In Tuesday’s upcoming friendlies, Japan will take on Ghana in Yokohama, Korea will play Croatia in Seoul and China will face Malaysia in Guangzhou.

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