MD6 - Group F: Kyrgyz Republic 1-1 Tajikistan
Bishkek: A late equaliser from Tamirlan Kozubaev salvaged a point for Kyrgyz Republic, who held on to second place in Asian Qualifiers Group F with a 1-1 draw against Tajikistan at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium on Tuesday.
An early strike from Jahongir Ergashev had Tajikistan ahead at half-time, but a wave of a second half attacks culminated in Kozubaev’s leveller, which keeps both sides on seven points after five matches.
The result damages both sides’ chances of overhauling Japan as group leaders, but with the top four second-placed teams also advancing to the next round, the race remains wide open.
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Eager to atone for their 1-0 loss to Tajikistan two months ago, Kyrgyz Republic began on the front foot, with Alimardon Shukurov’s seventh-minute volley over the crossbar indicative of a wider trend which saw the visitors pushed back into their own half for much of the early action.
That trend was abruptly interrupted, however, when Tajikistan took the lead with one of their first ventures forward n the 17th minute, with a swift breakaway bringing Kyrgyz Republic undone.
It was Alisher Dzhalilov’s pass which made the opportunity, with the midfielder’s first-time pass releasing Ergashev, who outplaced Valerii Kichin, slid the ball past Pavel Matiash and gave Usmon Toshev’s side the priceless advantage.
Kyrgyz Republic’s territorial dominance resumed almost immediately, but, unlike the visitors, they were unable to turn their forays forward into clear cut chances, with Tajikistan goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov stepping in to keep things secure whenever his teammates couldn’t as the half ended with their lead intact.
Kairat Zhyrgalbek was introduced at half-time as the Akshumkar looked to turn the match around, and a fierce volley over the crossbar from Bekzhan Sagynbaev just after the interval was the earliest evidence that they might do so.
But, while the momentum continued to build, a combination of poor delivery and committed Tajikistan defending meant Kyrgyz Republic still hadn’t carved out any gilt-edged chances by the time AFC Asian Cup hero Vitalij Lux was introduced in the 64th minute.
Just as Kyrgyz Republic’s ideas looked to be running out, they snatched the crucial equaliser, with a Kichin cross from the left leading to a goalmouth scramble which was put to an end by Kozubaev, who prodded the ball over the goal line from around six yards to send the 15,873 fans in the stadium into delirium with seven minutes remaining.
Tajikistan will play Mongolia on March 26 while Kyrgyz Republic will be in action five days later against Myanmar.
Photos: Football Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic
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