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Drulovic impressed by Uzbekistan's control

Songkhla: Uzbekistan head coach Ljubinko Drulovic was left satisfied by a dominant performance after his side beat China PR 2-0 to take a significant step towards the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 quarter-finals on Sunday.

Goals to Islom Kobilov – who scored a penalty before failing to convert a second spot-kick after half time – as well as substitute Nurillo Tukhtasinov, secured a win which took Uzbekistan to four points from two matches, and left China PR with no way of reaching the last eight stage.

After being held in a competitive 1-1 draw against Islamic Republic of Iran on Matchday One, Drulovic said he was pleased with his side’s convincing display against Hao Wei’s side.

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“I’m very satisfied,” said the 38-time international. “We started well and made three or four chances to score, but we just scored in the last minute of the first half, which was good for us.

“From there we played very well in the second half and I’m very satisfied with how we played the 90 minutes.

“I think we were better than China and we deserved the three points.”

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group C: China PR 0-2 Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan ultimately claimed a comprehensive victory, but the match wasn’t without the occasional challenging moment for the defending champions, particularly when China enjoyed a brief promising spell after Kobilov saw a penalty saved by Chen Wei with the score still at 1-0.

Drulovic said he was impressed by his side’s ability to regain the ascendancy, and believes all Kobilov’s penalty miss did was reduce the final winning margin.

“If we scored the goal from the second penalty with 30 minutes to go, maybe it would have been easier for us and we could score more goals,” he declared.

"But (penalty misses) can happen. Kobilov lost the chance from the penalty. The goalkeeper made a big save, and he deserves credit.

"I believe we would have scored more goals, but we continued to control the game. China attacked and tried to score, but we controlled the game and scored the second goal. Even after the second goal, we had two more chances to score the third.”

While Uzbekistan got their campaign very much back on track with their win, Sunday’s match signalled the end to China’s bid for a first men’s Olympic football appearance since 2008.

Hao Wei believed his side had been unlucky to lose in the first meeting against Korea Republic last Thursday, but acknowledged his side were not at the same level as Uzbekistan.

“Obviously today wasn’t our best performance, and our opponent deserved the victory,” said the former Chinese women’s national team head coach.

“I hope in the next game we can improve and be better.

“Obviously there is a gap between us and the top teams who have higher leagues, and this is what we need to work on.”

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