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Asian Qualifiers - Group H: Turkmenistan dent Lebanon's hopes with late win


Goyang City: A late winner from Altymyrat Annadurdyyev saw Turkmenistan sign off their Group H campaign with a rollercoaster 3-2 victory against Lebanon in the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Wednesday.

Having taken the lead on 59 minutes through Zafar Babajanov, Turkmenistan were stunned by a pair of stellar solo goals from Rabih Ataya and Soony Saad that had seemingly turned the tie on its head.

But for a second time in the match a pair of goals flipped the script. First Guychmyrat Annagulyyev and then Annadurdyyev in injury time found the target to seal all three points for the Central Asians in dramatic fashion.

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Chances were at premium in the opening spells at Goyang Stadium, but Lebanon could have opened the scoring on 25 minutes.

Saad’s whipped-in cross from the right deserved a better contact than that provided by Mohamad Kdouh, who could only direct his header over.

And Annadurdyyev could have made Kdouh’s profligacy pay immediately at the other end, but after twisting and turning on the Lebanon left, fired his effort into the side netting.

Kdouh went even closer to breaking the deadlock on 32 minutes as he met Mohamad Haidar’s free-kick with a bullet header that crashed onto the crossbar and away, with goalkeeper Rasul Charyyev well beaten.

On the stroke of half-time another Haidar set-piece caused consternation in the penalty area and went close to looping in directly if not for an alert Charyyev tipping over.

Charyyev was in action again 10 minutes after the restart, producing a flying stop to deny a thunderous 22-yard effort from George Melki.

But against the run of play Turkmenistan took the lead on the hour mark.

Arslan Amanov’s inviting free-kick from the right found Babajanov (pictured above) who thumped his header past Mehdi Khalil to give the Turkmens the lead.

Lebanon pressed for an equaliser and on 68 minutes Kdouh’s curler landed on the top of Charyyev’s net, before substitute Ataya blazed over shortly after.

Ataya would not be denied a second time, though, and with 17 minutes remaining he took off on a slaloming run, beating three defenders, before slotting the ball through the legs of Charyyev.

And better was to come just two minutes later as Saad (pictured above, left) unleashed a swerving 30-yard-special that Charyyev got a glove to but could only deflect into the top corner of the goal.

Turkmenistan were not finished though, and on 85 minutes Annagulyyev continued the trend of stunning goals with an acrobatic flying volley from Ahmet Atayev’s free-kick that fizzed past Khalil.

To make matters worse, captain Nour Mansour received a red card in the aftermath of the goal and Lebanon’s forgettable day became a nightmare as Annadurddyev scored late on, beating Khalil at his near post with a low drive, to take all three points for Turkmenistan.

While the Turkmens' Group H exploits are now concluded, Lebanon will need to pick themselves back up ahead of their showdown with group leaders and hosts Korea Republic on June 13.

Photos: Korea Football Association

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