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Analysis: FC Istiklol show their steel to secure pole position

Friday, May 3, 2019

Dushanbe: FC Istiklol strengthened their grip on Group D as a 4-1 win over Dordoi FC put them three points clear after Matchday Three of the 2019 AFC Cup on Wednesday.

The Tajik side were a little fortunate to lead 3-0 early in the second half thanks to two penalties and a deflected strike. But they showed steel to withstand a spirited second half from Dordoi before sealing the three points.

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Dzhalilov shines

Alisher Dzhalilov stood out in the playmaker role for Istiklol with an energetic performance, capped by scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot.

The former Russia U-20 international was heavily involved throughout the 90 minutes, and his passing and shooting matrix (below) gives an indication of his all-action performance.

His successful passes (green) show how much he moved the game forward in the final third and he also managed to find a key pass (yellow) and fire an effort just over the bar (red) in addition to his goal and another shot on target.

Dzhalilov will certainly have caught the eye of a few future opponents, with Istiklol looking well-placed for a spot in the Inter-zone play-off semi-finals.

Result doesn’t tell the whole story

A look at the scoreline suggests a dominant performance from the home side but this could not be further from the truth. Dordoi started the game well and had already hit the post on a breakaway when Dzhalilov’s penalty put the hosts ahead.

The second and third goals just before and after the break were harsh on the visitors who had more than held their own.

The graphic below demonstrates that, over the 90 minutes, there was more play in and around the home side’s goal than near the Dordoi goal.

The graphic paints a truer picture of the match, with 4-1 certainly a misleading indicator of what was a close game between two well-matched teams who had almost an equal share of possession over 90 minutes.

Istiklol wing it

Istiklol owed much of their success to stretching their opponents and using the full width of the pitch. The graphic below shows that a huge amount of their attacking play came down the wings, with just 14.3 percent of forward moves coming through the centre.

Width brought results as the first penalty award came from a thrown-in on the right, the second came from a move down the left and the killer fourth was an example of classic wing play as a low cross from the right was tapped in at the far post.

Dordoi will certainly have noted Istiklol’s preference to go wide and they will have to be on their guard for some of the speedy attacking bursts that hurt them this time around.

The two sides face off again in Kyrgyz Republic on May 15 and Dordoi will hope that home advantage helps them turn the tables and finally get their first win of the campaign.

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