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Tashkent: Goals from Javlon Anorov and Farkhod Abdumavlyanov made it three wins on the bounce in Group A for hosts Uzbekistan as they ran out 2-0 victors over Lebanon in their final group outing of the AFC Futsal Championship on Sunday and in turn eliminated their opponents.

Knowing only a win would guarantee progression to the last eight, Lebanon started well at Uzbekistan Stadium but fell behind midway through the first half to Anorov’s strike before Abdumavlyanov sent the crowd into raptures by adding a second in the 16th minute.

The West Asians continued to push forward after the restart but spurned a number of guilt-edged opportunities as Uzbekistan maintained their perfect record in the continental competition ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final showdown with Group B runners-up Iraq.

“We played for our fans tonight and I’m very happy with my players. We closed them down and stopped their creativity,” said Uzbekistan coach Jose Maria Pazos.

“In the second half we suffered because of our physical condition as four players had the flu, but Rustam [Umarov] showed why he is one of the best goalkeepers in Asia.

“But we are a team where our average level is similar, so if some players are not so well, others can come in and do a good job.”

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Lebanon had the first chance of note in the sixth minute when Ali Tneich’s effort was parried out by goalkeeper Rustam Umarov before captain Kassem Koussan blazed wide at the second attempt after his initial strike was blocked by the Uzbek backline.

And with the West Asians dominating possession it was Uzbekistan who snatched the lead against the run of play in the 11th minute after Lebanon lost the ball deep in the opposition half and Anorov raced the length of the pitch to confidently dispatch past goalkeeper Hussein Hamadani.

With the crowd in full voice the hosts went two up four minutes before the interval after Abdumavlyanov burst down the left and fired an unstoppable left foot shot past Hamdani.

Francisco Araujo’s Lebanon began the second half on the front foot and Umarov was called into action two minutes in to save from Ali El Homsi.

But with the West Asians pushing forward they were always susceptible to the breakaway and Abdumavlyanov almost made them pay when he danced past Koussan only to see his goalbound fizzer pushed away by Hussein.

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Lebanon continued to push forward and El Homsi should have pulled one back in the 28th minute but was off target from close in before Mohamad Kobeissy wasted another golden chance seven minutes from time.

Then as Lebanon attempted to force a goal during a power play, Dilshod Rakhmatov raced through on goal, but he saw his shot on the turn come back off the post.

Uzbekistan were not made to pay for Rakhmatov’s profligacy, though, as they closed out the game to the sounds of celebrations from the capacity arena.

“It was a balanced match but we made a mistake for the first goal. After that we tried everything to score but their keeper was great,” said Lebanon coach Araujo.

“We lost our chance in the first match when we were close to winning and we couldn’t hold on. If we had won that game it would have changed the whole group.

“I’m sad because we had the dream to play Iran, the biggest team on the continent, and a dream to qualify for the World Cup.”

Photo: AFC

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