Uzbekistan fails to qualify to FIFA World Cup
With Syria drawing with Islamic Republic of Iran in Tehran, the point was enough for the East Asians to secure a ninth consecutive appearance at the World Cup finals while their hosts miss out after finishing fourth.
Hwang Hee-chan almost opened the scoring for the visitors within two minutes of the match’s kick-off at Bunyodkor Stadium after his angled drive inside the penalty area rattled the crossbar.
The hosts matched that effort 18 minutes later as Azizbek Haydarov unleased a rocket from distance that thudded against Kim Seung-gyu’s right-hand upright.
The woodwork was shaken for the third and final time of the first half after Hwang found Son Heung-min inside the area but the Tottenham Hotspur’s powerful drive was tipped onto the post by Ignatiy Nesterov.
After the restart, Korea came out the stronger and Kim Min-soo forced Nesterov into a plunging save to his right to turn the ball behind on 65 minutes, but Uzbekistan responded and inside the final 10 minutes Alexander Geynrikh forced Kim Seung-gyu into an alert stop at his near post.
Veteran Lee Dong-gook almost added another moment of magic to his storied career when his header bounced off the crossbar but the match finished goalless, and instead the drama was to come in Iran where Omar Al Soma’s late equaliser for Syria meant Uzbekistan ended their campaign in fourth and out of play-off contention.