Group D: Dordoi FC 2-1 FC Istiklol
Bishkek: Dordoi FC gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the 2019 AFC Cup knockout stage, coming from behind to secure a much-needed 2-1 win over Tajikistan's FC Istiklol at Dolen Omurzakov Stadium on Wednesday.
Alexander Krestinin's side looked to be heading for the exit after falling behind to Alisher Dzhalilov's opening goal, but Vahyt Orazsakhedov and Mirlan Murzaev scored in a spirited second-half recovery to take the Kyrgyz Republic side to four points, three behind Group D leaders Istiklol, with two matches to come.
Coming into the match bottom of the group - and with Istiklol having earned maximum points all three of the previous meetings between the sides, including a 4-1 win as recently as May 1, Dordoi were in need a change of fortune - and they held their own in the opening exchanges.
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The Kyrgyz Republic champions weren't far away from taking the lead when Azamat Baimatov had a header blocked from close range in the 20th minute, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock through Dzhalilov nine minutes later.
In a passage of play that owed much to the trickery of Istiklol captain Fathullo Fathuloev, Dzhalilov found himself on the end of a low cross, which he steered in with aplomb from close range.
Dordoi were behind but far from out of the contest, producing a succession of dangerous crosses that failed to find a receiver in the Istiklol penalty area as the first half ended with the visitors narrowly in front.
A reflex save from Istiklol's Nikola Stosic was all that prevented Jalil Kimsanov from scoring an own goal early in the second half, but - despite that close shave - Dordoi's building pressure eventually told.
The turning point came when Orazsakhedov managed to get on the end of one of the home side's dangerous wide deliveries, reading a corner kick better than anyone else to nod in the equaliser at the back post in the 57th minute.
That goal energised both Dordoi and the home crowd, and they were further ignited in the 77th minute, when Murzaev cut inside Fathuloev before finding the top corner with a blistering left-footed effort from 15 yards; his second goal in as many matches against Istiklol.
The visitors searched for an equaliser, but it was Dordoi's night as they claimed their first win of the competition, and left all four sides in a fascinating Group D with a chance of reaching the knockout stage with two Matchdays remaining.
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