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Group F: Altyn Asyr edge FC Alay in AFC Cup thriller

Dushanbe: Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FC survived a scare to secure a 5-4 victory over Kyrgyz Republic’s FC Alay in a thrilling encounter on Matchday Two of the 2021 AFC Cup Group F on Monday.

Having started their campaign with a 2-2 draw against Tajikistan’s FC Khujand, Altyn Asyr wasted no time at Central Republican Stadium, taking the game to their opponents straight from kick-off and they were instantly rewarded with goals.

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With the high press applied on him, Alay centre-back Oibek Abdugafarov played a back pass to goalkeeper Danil Poliakov who failed to control the ball and watched it nestle into the back of his net after just 65 seconds.

Alay recovered from the early setback and after multiple attempts, they got their equaliser at the half-hour mark as Tunisian midfielder Tijani Belaid whipped an in-swinging cross from the corner that was met by a towering header from Aidar Mambetaliev who directed it goalward to bring the game level.

A late rally saw Altyn Asyr fire a quick double-salvo in the final five minutes of the first half to take a comfortable lead into the dressing rooms. Abdugafarov’s miserable outing continued when he handled the ball inside his own box, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Altymyrat Annadurdyyev stepped up and converted for his third goal of the campaign in the 41st minute.

A well-worked attacking move three minutes later saw Velmyrat Ballakov feed a through pass to Rovshengeldi Halmammedov who pulled it back across for Ylyasov Vezirgeldi to sweep home Altyn Asyr’s third goal.

The Turkmens' attacking display continued after the restart and they added their fourth three minutes into the second half. Mihail Titov controlled a loose ball following Halmammedov’s cross into the Alay box and rifled on the half-volley into the back of the net.

There was a second own goal in the 72nd minute, this time into the Altyn Asyr net. Alay’s Nurbolot Yrysbekov sent a powerful shot that looked set to miss the target before Annaguliyev Guychmyrat’s ill-advised attempt to clear it saw the ball go into the roof of the net to make it 4-2.

Alay were offered a glimmer of hope with eight minutes to go as a quick counter attack saw Ghanaian forward Emmanuel Yaghr break free and send a cross that was converted by Altyn Asyr’s Furkat Tursunov into the back of his own net to reduce the margin to one goal.

The Kyrgyz side looked to have achieved the impossible in the last minute of the match as Adilet Nurlan rose highest to head home Suiuntbek Mamyraliev out-swinging cross to draw Alay level.

With five minutes of added time, there was still room for one more twist in the tale as Alay’s Alimov Asadbek fouled Rahman Myratberdiyev inside the box, gifting Altyn Asyr an opportunity to win it from the spot. The experienced Annadurdyyev made no mistakes drilling home his side’s fifth and his second of the game to seal victory for the Turkmen powerhouse.

The result means Alay are officially eliminated while Altyn Asyr reach point number four with a deciding clash against Uzbekistan's FC Nasaf next for them on Thursday.

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