Glory for Saudi Arabia: Younger Falcons defeat Uzbekistan 2-0 to win first-ever AFC U-23 Asian Cup
TASHKENT: Saudi Arabia grew to become Asian U-23 champions on Sunday after defeating hosts Uzbekistan 2-0 in Tashkent, due to very good second half-strikes from Ahmed Al-Ghamdi and Firas Al-Buraikan.
It’s the first time the younger Inexperienced Falcons have received the AFC U-23 Asian Cup after last defeats in 2013 and 2020, and it additionally marks the primary main continental trophy for coach Saad Al-Shehri who additionally misplaced two continental finals in his profession.
Al-Ghamdi gave Saudi Arabia the lead early within the second half with a strike worthy of profitable any prize, with Al-Buraikan including an equally spectacular second with 16 minutes remaining.
Because the crew’s protection had didn’t concede a single aim at any time within the match, the dimensions of Uzbekistan’s job was obvious as they had been going to need to do one thing that 5 groups had failed to do that month. Roared on by 34,000 followers on the Milliy Stadium, the boys in blue tried their utmost however had been unable to discover a well past goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Aqidi.
Whereas the ultimate minutes had been understandably frantic, the opening interval was a cagey one with Saudi Arabia maintaining the ball effectively and Uzbekistan seeking to break ahead shortly once they received possession. The primary half was on the halfway level earlier than there was any hazard of a aim.
It was Saudi Arabia who got here shut. Hamad Al-Ghamdi, inside the realm, bought to the byline on the left and pulled the ball again for Al-Buraikan, however the striker’s low shot from shut vary was well-blocked by Alibek Davronov.
The hosts, with their followers filling the stadium two hours earlier than the kick-off, had their first clear probability after 32 minutes. Hojimat Erginov ran on to a by ball however, from the sting of the realm, shot excessive and large with simply the goalkeeper to beat.
Moments later, Hamad Al-Yami unleashed a robust shot from 25 meters, which had goalkeeper Vladimir Nazarov scrambling to his left to tip the ball away from his nook.
Then, seven minutes earlier than the break Al-Ghamdi was bundled over by Davranov within the space and the referee pointed to the spot. VAR had a great look and a five-minute wait determined there had been a marginal offside within the build-up.
That episode bought the Tashkent temperature rising, however the final motion of the primary half noticed the Saudis nearly take the lead. An extended ball from inside their half was headed again by Al-Buraikan to Ayman Yahya, whose looping header hit the skin of the put up with the goalkeeper scrambling again from no man’s land.
Then simply three minutes into the second half, Saudi Arabia took the lead in beautiful trend. Al-Yami discovered Al-Ghamdi on the sting of the realm, however the 20-year-old participant nonetheless had work to do. The Ettifaq man evaded the attentions of two defenders after which fired an unstoppable left-footed shot into the highest nook.
Uzbekistan had been understandably desirous to get again on stage phrases as quickly as doable and, across the hour mark, had been beginning to push Saudi Arabia extra onto the again foot, though the much-vaunted protection held agency. There have been some hearts in mouths, nonetheless, as the person in type for the Central Asians, Jasurbek Jaloliddinov, nearly repeated his spectacular semi-final strike in opposition to Japan however his long-range shot simply went over the bar.
The hosts had the ball within the web with 20 minutes remaining. Jaloliddinov despatched Ruslanbek Jiyanov by on aim and whereas his low shot from the fitting throughout Al-Aqidi beat the goalkeeper, the ahead obtained the ball in a transparent offside place.
Quickly after, it was 2-0. Uzbekistan had been leaving gaps on the again, however Saudi Arabia couldn’t take benefit till Al-Buraikan scored one other memorable aim. The striker was outdoors the field on the left facet and unleashed a lethal shot into the far nook, previous Nazarov’s despairing dive.
It knocked the wind out of the hosts’ sails and there was no method again for the 2018 champions, who grew more and more annoyed. There was a serious bust-up towards the tip as Uzbekistan felt their opponents had been time-wasting, which led to loads of pushing and even just a few water bottles thrown from the stands onto the pitch.
The Younger Falcons saved their cool, their eyes on the prize, and shortly, within the presence of the president of the Saudi Arabian Soccer Federation Yasser Al-Misehal, had their arms on the trophy for the very first time on the third time of asking.