Uzbekistan pay the penalty as Australia hold nerve to reach last-eight

Joy for the Socceroos as they came out on top in the nervy penalty shootout in Al-Ain. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019

Uzbekistan pay the penalty as Australia hold nerve to reach last-eight

  • Mat Ryan the hero as keeper saves two Uzbek spotkicks.
  • Neither side could break deadlock in 120 minutes of goals football in Al-Ain.

AL-AIN: Goalkeeper Mat Ryan brilliantly saved two penalties as defending champions Australia won a dramatic shoot-out with Uzbekistan to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals on Monday.
Australia had the better of a goalless 120 minutes before Brighton’s Ryan stopped spot-kicks from Islom Tukhtakhujaev and Marat Bikmaev in a tense shoot-out that finished 4-2.
Hertha Berlin’s Mathew Leckie, returning from a hamstring injury, buried the decisive kick to put the Socceroos into a clash against either hosts UAE or Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbekistan were well on top in the first half against a pedestrian Australia who managed just one shot on target before the break, an innocuous effort from Aziz Behich.
Central defender Trent Sainsbury, back from suspension, will have nightmares about how he was shrugged off by Eldor Shomurodov for a one-on-one chance saved by Ryan’s arm.
Javokhir Sidikov fizzed one wide of the upright after Jaloliddin Masharipov all too easily evaded the joint challenge of Rhyan Grant and Awer Mabil.
But Australia seemed determined to mix it up after the break and as they finally clicked, Jamie Maclaren had a shot blocked before Grant twice had opportunities with his head.
Leckie then made his long-awaited first appearance of the tournament, and he had an immediate impact in the forward line.
Leckie was part of a move that left Maclaren inches away from the opener, and then after dribbling into the box he was only denied by a smart stop from Ignatiy Nesterov.
Rogic’s sharp shot was turned around the post by Nesterov and after they went into extra time, the influential Celtic man curled another one just past the upright.
However, neither side could get the winner and ultimately Ryan was the difference as he stood up to Tukhtakhujaev’s kick straight down the middle, and dived low for Bikmaev’s.
But in a sour note for the holders, Rogic picked up a harsh yellow card in the first half which will rule him out of the quarter-final.

Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

Updated 30 min 37 sec ago

Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

  • Paris club said to turn down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million plus Coutinho and Rakitic

PARIS: Neymar remains no closer to getting his desired move away from Paris Saint-Germain amid reports Thursday the French club have rejected an offer from Real Madrid of €100 million($111 million) plus players.

French sports daily L’Equipe said Real had offered cash plus Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but PSG turned it down because “the overall value of the offer did not match their expectations.” 

Paris paid €222 million to sign Neymar from Barcelona two years ago and their sporting director Leonardo is understood to be determined to only sell the forward for a deal considered to be of the same value.

Real have spent the summer trying to offload Bale, while James is unwanted after returning from a loan at Bayern Munich and Navas is no longer the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, Barcelona remain hopeful of bringing Neymar back to the Camp Nou, but Catalan daily Sport claims an attempt to sign the player on loan with an obligation to buy for €160 million at the end of the season has been firmly rejected in Paris.

Sport claims Barcelona feel “it is very clear that PSG are trying to prevent the Brazilian from returning to the Camp Nou in any scenario.” 

PSG had previously reportedly turned down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million  plus Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic. Coutinho has since joined Bayern on loan.

Juventus are also believed to have stated an interest in signing the 27-year-old, who has not featured in any of PSG’s matches so far this season having been frozen out amid the uncertainty over his future. The transfer window closes in France, Spain and Italy on Sept. 2, meaning time is fast running out for a deal to be done.

Watford loan Sweden winger Sema to Udinese

Watford winger Ken Sema has completed a season-long loan move to Udinese, the Serie A side confirmed on Thursday.

The six-times capped Sweden international only moved to Vicarage Road last summer from Ostersunds FK and made 22 appearances for the English club.

The 25-year-old's departure follows the arrival of Senegal international Ismaila Sarr to the Premier League outfit on a club record transfer of €35 million   ($38 million) from Rennes. The northeastern Italian club and Watford are both owned by the Pozzo family.

Udinese host AC Milan in their opening match of the Serie A season on Saturday.