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Group F: Nasaf beat Khujand to zoom in on AFC Cup knockout stage berth

Dushanbe: Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf continued their hot start to the 2021 AFC Cup with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Tajikistan’s FC Khujand on Matchday Two of Group F on Monday.

Having put four past Kyrgyz Republic side FC Alay in their opening match, the 2011 winners romped to a three-goal lead by half-time and went on to protect their advantage, securing a second consecutive win.

With the result, Nasaf move to the top of Group F with six points to their name. They will need to avoid defeat against Altyn Asyr on the final matchday to secure passage to the Zonal finals.

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Nasaf started on the front foot and were in front inside the opening 10 minutes as Khusniddin Alikulov delivered a whipped cross from the right for Akmal Mozgovoy who took it first-time at the near post, hammering past the Tajik goalkeeper.

Khujand looked to get back into the game, but despite spells of dominance, they could only muster shy attempts, most notably from Nozim Babadzhanov who tried his luck from distance but could not find the target.

Alikulov turned from provider to scorer for Nasaf, leaping high to get on the end of Sherzod Nasrullaev’s cross from the left and guiding his header into the back of the net beyond goalkeeper Aleksei Matrossov’s outstretched arms for Nasaf’s second in the 41st minute.

Just before the referee blew his whistle for half-time, Nasaf found time to add a third. A well-worked attacking combination saw Oybek Bozorov feed Mozgovoy down the left and the latter crossed it low for Nasrullaev who applied the finishing touch to give his side a comfortable 3-0 lead going into the break.

Neither side could find the back of the net in the second period, although Nasaf came closest in the 79th minute as Mannonov’s cross from the corner found its way to substitute Mukhriddin Zoirov who twisted and looked to hit on the turn, but his effort from eight yards out passed just wide.

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