Matchday Six - Group D: FC Istiklol 2-3 Altyn Asyr FC
Hisor: Mihail Titov's last minute goal earned Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr FC a place in the 2018 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-Finals after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Tajikistan's FC Istiklol on Wednesday.
Furkat Tursunov opened the scoring early on, bagging a first-minute goal for Altyn Asyr following brilliant teamwork that resulted in a swift cross from the left flank by Altymyrat Annadurdyyev, which Tursunov translated easily.
The hosts were shaken up by the early goal but managed to regain confidence to direct the game and started pressuring the Turkmen side. Yet, their first half attempts lacked a proper closing, especially those by the active Belarussian forward Nikolai Zenko.
Zafar Babajanov made Istiklol’s job even harder when he registered his team’s second goal after a curled ball from Murat Yakshiyev that only needed a small touch from Babajanov in the fourth minute of the first-half injury time.
Istiklol piled on the pressure further and Zenko eventually converted Sheriddin Boboev’s pass into his side’s first goal seven minutes from time.
One minute before the end of the game, the Tajik side were awarded a penalty kick for a foul on Dilshod Vasiev. Akhtam Nazarov stepped up and fired successfully to complete his side's comeback.
Just as the hosts were preparing their celebrations, a quick counter-attacking move from Altyn Asyr in the last minute of added time resulted in a rebound that Titov seized, scoring a late winner for the visitors to lead them into the next round.
Altyn Asyr finished the group on 14 points, one ahead of last year's runners-up as they advanced to the Inter-Zone Semi-Finals which will take place in August.