Saudi Arabia seal late win against Uzbekistan in Asian Qualifiers

Saudi Arabia’s Green Falcons celebrate their 3-2 win against Uzbekistan at the Asian Qualifiers in Tashkent on Thursday. (Uzbekistan Football Association, Saudi Arabian Football Federation)
Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi Arabia seal late win against Uzbekistan in Asian Qualifiers

  • Al-Dawsari scores winner as Green Falcons come from behind to claim three points
  • Uzbekistan hope to bounce back when they host Palestine on Tuesday

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan:  Saudi Arabia twice came from a goal down to defeat Uzbekistan 3-2 in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers on Thursday. 

It was a crucial win for the Green Falcons, taking the three-time Asian Cup winners to the top of Group D.

Uzbekistan came into the tie confident, having bounced back from an opening day loss to record back-to-back victories.

The Central Asians applied heavy pressure from the start and were rewarded after just 16 minutes, with Ikromjon Alibaev forcing Saudi defender Yasir Gharsan Al-Shahrani into a poor back pass, which Eldor Shomurodov neatly intercepted and blasted past keeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Saudi Arabia, with one win and two draws in their previous matches, were not discouraged by the early deficit, though, and they pushed the hosts back in search of an equalizer.

BACKGROUND

Saudi Arabia, with one win and two draws in their previous matches, were not discouraged by the early deficit, though, and they pushed the hosts back in search of an equalizer.

It came six minutes later when Rustamjon Ashurmatov brought down a surging Feras Tariq Al-Brikan in the box, and referee Ryuji Sato pointed to the penalty spot. Saudi skipper Salman Al-Faraj converted with ease.

Ten minutes into the second half Uzbekistan won a penalty of their own when the hapless Al-Shahrani handled in the area. Shukurov made no mistake from the spot.

Saudi Arabia’s head coach Hervé Renard then sent on Abdulaziz Al-Beshi and Nawaf Al-Abed in the 62nd and 72nd minutes to rejuvenate the Green Falcons’ attack, as the visitors threw bodies forward in search of goals.

The Uzbek defense eventually cracked in the 85th minute as Al-Dawsari’s cross was not properly dealt with by Farrukh Sayfiev, and Al-Faraj volleyed home the loose ball to make it 2-2.

Vadim Abramov’s charges were now under pressure and cracked again just before the 90th minute as Al-Dawsari beat the Uzbekistan defenders and lobbed the ball over Eldorbek Suyunov to complete the comeback.

Uzbekistan hope to bounce back when they host Palestine on Tuesday.

 


Coco bid ends in tears as Djokovic, Federer blast into quarterfinals

Updated 20 min 57 sec ago

Coco bid ends in tears as Djokovic, Federer blast into quarterfinals

  • Novak Djokovic was remorseles against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman to book an 11th appearance in the last eight, where he will clash with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer swept into the Australian Open quarterfinals but 15-year-old Coco Gauff exited in tears on Sunday after her quest to become the Open era’s youngest Grand Slam winner came screeching to a halt.

As Melbourne marked Australia Day with formation jets and a 21-gun salute, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty had home fans celebrating before crowd favorite Federer dismantled Marton Fucsovics in the night match.

Djokovic, hunting his eighth Melbourne title, was remorseless against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, crushing the 14th seed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to book an 11th appearance in the last eight.

The Serb’s reward is a match-up with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who is back in form after a run of injuries and dismissed 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

“I’ve got to be ready for missiles coming from his side of the net,” said Djokovic, the 16-time Grand Slam winner.

Gauff’s giant-killing Australian debut generated hype dubbed ‘Cocomania’ as she attempted to become the youngest Major winner in the post-1968 Open Era, breaking the record set by a 16-year-old Martina Hingis in 1997.

Gauff beat seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in round one and title-holder Naomi Osaka in the third, but she came unstuck against a determined Sofia Kenin.

Gauff raised hopes by edging the first set but then her fellow American took control and it was one-sided at the finish as Kenin won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0.

“The thing I’m most proud of myself is how I handled it on the court,” said Gauff, who shed tears after her defeat. “Even though today I lost a set 6-0, I was still believing I could win it.”

Kenin, already on the best Grand Slam run of her career, next faces Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Major quarterfinal.

Wang stunned Serena Williams in the third round but the 27th seed ran out of steam against Jabeur, who fought back from a break down in the first set to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history — she reached a career-high 51 last year — is the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open.

“I’m really shaking right now, it’s unbelievable, I can’t describe how I feel,” said the 25-year-old.

Australia’s Barty had some nervy moments against American Alison Riske, dropping the second set and briefly losing her way before recovering to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

She now has an improving chance of becoming the first home-grown winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978 after six of the top 10 seeds exited in the previous round.

“I just had to hang in there and try and give myself a chance,” said Barty, who next plays Petra Kvitova, after the two-time Wimbledon champion beat Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-2.

Later, Federer sent ripples of consternation around Rod Laver Arena when he dropped the first set against Hungary’s Fucsovics, the world No. 67.

But the 38-year-old Swiss, pushed to a fifth-set tie-breaker by Australia’s John Millman on Friday, came alive in the second set as he rattled through the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

“It just took me some time, I tried to mix it up a bit and just had to figure it out. From the beginning of the second set it got a little bit easier,” Federer said.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s quarter-final is against unseeded American Tennys Sandgren, who upset Italian 12th seed Fabio Fognini in four tough sets, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4.