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Group F: Altyn Asyr, Khujand share points in AFC Cup cracker

Dushanbe: Returning fans at Dushanbe’s Central Republican Stadium were treated to a fine display of attacking football as home side FC Khujand played out a 2-2 draw against Turkmenistan powerhouse Altyn Asyr in Group F of the 2021 AFC Cup on Friday.

The draw means it is Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf who lead the group after Matchday One, having beaten Kyrgyz Republic’s FC Alay 4-0 in the opening match. Altyn Asyr next face Alay on Monday while Khujand play Nasaf later on the same day.

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Altyn Asyr took the lead inside 15 minutes after Begench Akmamedov’s cross from the right was poked by Mihail Titov into the path of Altymyrat Annadurdyyev who rifled from the edge of the box into the top corner.

The Turkmen side’s joy was cut short three minutes later as Berdimyrat Rejebov received a straight red card after a flying tackle that left Khujand’s Ibrogimzoda Naimdzhon needing treatment on the sidelines.

Khujand capitalised on their numerical advantage, taking the game to their opponents and drawing level in the 25th minute as Samandar Ochilov supplied a defence-splitting pass for Artem Serdyuk who controlled and fired home the equaliser.

As the first half drew to a close, the home crowd erupted with joy as Dilshod Bosorov gave Khujand the lead for the first time on the night. The club captain headed Naimdzhon’s cross from the left towards the bottom corner and after goalkeeper Dovletyar Berdiyev made the save, Bosorov was first to react, hitting on the half-volley past the goalkeeper to make it 2-1 with four minutes to the break.

Before the two teams could go back to the dressing room, there was still just enough time for coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev’s side to equalise. Ahmed Atayev’s out-swinging corner was cushioned by Ylyasov Vezirgeldi for Annadurdyyev who hammered in Altyn Asyr’s second.

Substitute Parviz Baki-Akhunov thought he had won it for Khujand with 10 minutes to go as he rose unopposed to head Daler Yodgorov’s cross past the goalkeeper, but his effort passed inches wide of the upright.

Altyn Asyr suffered another blow late on as Mekan Saparov received a second yellow card following a heavy challenge on Serdyuk, causing his side to be reduced to nine men with four minutes to go.

A late rally for Khujand saw Ochilov miss the target with back-to-back long range efforts as Altyn Asyr held on to take a hard-fought point.

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