• AFC Futsal C'ship: Uzbekistan 2-1 Japan
    21:59 | 04/05/2014

    Artur Yunusov’s header with just under eight seconds remaining saw Uzbekistan snatch a dramatic 2-1 win over defending champions Japan at the AFC Futsal Championship on Saturday following an enthralling Group D contest at Ton Duc Thang University Stadium.


    Japan had taken the lead courtesy of  Ryosuke Nishitani’s close range finish after nine minutes only for 2012 AFC Futsal Championship quarter-finalists Uzbekistan to equalise less than a minute later through Andrey Shlema.

    And after Uzbekistan goalkeeper Rustam Umarov had kept Japan at bay during an end-to-end second half, Yunusov’s glancing header from Shuhrat Tojiboev’s hopeful long ball forward handed Uzbekistan a first win of the campaign having conceded two late goals in Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Kyrgyzstan.

    “It is very good for us to win and a pleasure to do it against a strong team like Japan who are one of the best,” said Uzbekistan coach Bahodir Ahmedov, who now must prepare his side to face Korea Republic on Monday in their final game in Group D.

    “But this is only the first step and we will play Korea in the next game.

    “Without luck you cannot play futsal or football. And of course we were lucky, but whether you win 5-0, 10-0 or 2-1, you get three points and that is what is important.”

    Japan, who began the defence of their title with a 12-0 win over Korea, made an electric fast-paced start with Uzbekistan goalkeeper Umarov called into action multiple times to keep the scores level.

    And the pressure finally paid off after nine minutes as Akira Minamoto’s diagonal cross-field pass from a kick-in was turned in at the back post by Nishitani.

    But the lead lasted less than a minute as Shlema followed up with an emphatic first-time finish from the edge of the penalty having seen his initial strike blocked by Japan goalkeeper Hisamitsu Kawahara.

    The remainder of the first half was much more of an even contest compared to Japan’s dominant opening, and the scores remained level at half-time.

    Umarov, though, remained the busier goalkeeper at the start of the second half, although it was Japan custodian Kawahara who had to be at his best eight minutes after the restart to superbly beat away a rising strike from Shlema.

    Counterpart Umarov was also on top of his game as the Uzbekistan goalkeeper expertly plucked Shota Hoshi’s snap-shot out of the top corner with one hand two minutes later.

    And it was Umarov who was the next to test Kawahara with just under five minutes remaining as the Uzbekistan goalkeeper tried his luck from inside his own penalty area and his backpedaling opposite number had to be on his toes to push the effort one-handed over the crossbar.

    Umarov was then quickly off his line to smoother at the feet of Nishitani with two minutes remaining after Uzbekistan had conceded possession on the halfway line.

    Uzbekistan again had Umarov to thank with the custodian twice denying Nishitani inside the final 90 seconds.

    And with the clock showing 7.8 seconds remaining, Yunusov’s glancing header on the edge of the Japan penalty area from Tojiboev’s long ball forward looped over Kawahara, who was caught out of position.

    “We are Asian champions and we should not make mistakes like that in the last seconds of the game,” said Japan coach Miguel Rodrigo.

    “I did have a sense we might lose before the game. But even though we didn’t play well, I believe we didn’t deserve to lose that way even though it was a tough game.”

    According to AFC

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