Uzbekistan too good for Sri Lanka

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Uzbekistan kicked-off their AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers Final Round Group ‘C’ opener in style defeating Sri Lanka 3-0 on Wednesday.

Uzbekistan dominated from start to finish with goals coming from Jaloliddin Masharipov, Dostonbek Khamdamov and Farrukh Sayfiev to seal three points.

Uzbekistan came into the contest at the Markaziy Stadium in Namangan with head coach Srecko Katanec fielding a strong side captained by Eldor Shomurodov alongside playmaker Jaloliddin Masharipov.-

Uzbekistan started confidently with Azizbek Amonov flashing a half-volley across the face of the goalmouth in the third minute after pouncing on a deflection inside the box.

Shomurodov came close three minutes later when Dostonbek Khamdamov floated a wonderful cross for the AS Roma forward, who fired his header just wide from close range.

Sri Lanka stayed in the game, keeping Uzbekistan at bay thanks to some wonderful goalkeeping by captain Sujan Perera, who produced a fine stop to deny Farrukh Sayfiev’s header in the 20th minute, before the custodian foiled Shomurodov’s effort moments later.

There was no denying Uzbekistan though, as they finally beat Perera in the 36th minute when Masharipov curled in a beautiful free-kick.

Amonov then tried to catch Sri Lanka off guard in the 40th minute, but Perera was at his best to stop the forward’s long-range effort with a diving save.

Uzbekistan doubled their lead three minutes into the restart with Dostonbek Khamdamov bending his free-kick over the Sri Lanka wall and past Perera.

Katanec’s men scored their third goal of the evening courtesy of Farrukh Sayfiev’s effort from inside the box after the defender pounced on a poor clearance.