Uzbekistan U-23 loses to Qatar

Tashkent, Uzbekistan ( -- Almoez Ali’s second half strike proved the difference as Qatar recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Uzbekistan in their AFC U23 Championship 2018 opener at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center on Tuesday.

The Al Duhail forward’s goal leaves Qatar second in Group A behind table-topping China PR who beat Oman 3-0 in the day’s earlier game.

In a closely fought first half, it was Uzbekistan who dominated the early proceedings, Zabikhillo Urinboev firing inches over following a neat interchange of passes with Dostonbek Khamdamov on the edge of the area after 14 minutes.

Qatar responded well however, with dynamic captain Ahmad Moein, a member of the squad when his country finished fourth at the tournament’s last edition in 2016, fizzing a shot narrowly wide shortly after the half hour mark.

With Qatar clearly growing in confidence, midfielder Salem Al Hajri then rattled the Uzbekistan bar courtesy of a rasping drive from distance as the opening period came to an entertaining close.

Urinboev headed just wide of the target from a pinpoint Javokhir Sidikov free-kick shortly after the restart, before Qatar took the lead on 55 minutes in stunning fashion.

A swift move down the right saw the impressive Hashim Ali break into the box and deliver a delightful cross that the advancing Almoez rifled into the net past the despairing dive of Uzbekistan goalkeeper Dilshod Khamraev.

As Uzbekistan desperately pushed for an equaliser, successive Qatari counter-attacks saw Khamraev deny both Hisham and, in the game’s dying embers, substitute Khaled Mohammed.

Qatar’s next outing comes on Friday when they face Oman, while Uzbekistan will tackle host nation China.

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