Uzbek gi­ants lose again in Asia

New Straits Times - - Sport -

UZBEK gi­ants Bun­y­o­d­kor crashed to a third suc­ces­sive de­feat in the Asian Cham­pi­ons League when they were beaten 20 at home by Iran’s Zoba­han on Mon­day.

The Tashkent-based are still with­out a point in Group C af­ter suf­fer­ing ear­lier losses to Saudi Ara­bia’s Al Ahli and the UAE’s Al Ain, leav­ing them with a moun­tain to climb in or­der to se­cure qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the next stage.

They also re­main win­less in their past 17 con­ti­nen­tal matches with this re­sult.

Goals from Jerry Bengt­son and Morteza Tabrizi en­sured a first win for Zoba­han as Bun­y­o­d­kor failed to come up with the an­swers both in at­tack and de­fence.

Af­ter a scrappy first half, the Ira­ni­ans went ahead through Hon­duran Bengt­son, who coolly slot­ted past goal­keeper Murotjon Zukhurov from the cen­tre of the box in the 55th minute on an as­sist from Mahdi Mahdipour.

Bun­y­o­d­kor suf­fered a big blow to their chances of a re­vival when for­ward Vadim Cemir­tan was red-carded for a dan­ger­ous foul on Da­nial Emaeil­i­far shortly af­ter the hour mark.

Both sides strug­gled to score af­ter that, but late in stop­page time Tabrizi con­verted a penalty to seal the out­come af­ter Alisher Sa­noev had com­mit­ted a foul in the area.

In the other Group C match, de­fender Aqeel al-Sa­habi found him­self go­ing from hero to vil­lain within the span of a half hour as Saudi Ara­bian cham­pi­ons Al Ahli were held 2-2 by 2016 run­ners-up Al Ain of the UAE.

Al-Sa­habi put the hosts ahead in the 26th minute with an out­ra­geous flick that looped into the net, but for­mer AFC Player of the Year Nas­sir al-Sham­rani lev­elled just two min­utes later with a clin­i­cal fin­ish.

Ioan­nis Fet­fatzidis put Al Ahli back in front from a dif­fi­cult an­gle af­ter Al Ain goal­keeper Khalid Eisa lost the ball in the box in the 50th minute, but al-Sa­habi’s own goal just two min­utes later en­sured the teams walked away with a point each.

Mean­while, Iran’s Estegh­lal beat an­other Uzbek side, Loko­mo­tiv Tashkent, 2-0 in Group A.

Farshid Es­maeili put Estegh­lal ahead in the 37th minute with a low shot fol­low­ing a cor­ner and Ali Ghor­bani con­sol­i­dated their lead in the 84th minute from an as­sist by Mi­lad Zakipour.

The re­sult moves Estegh­lal three points clear of Loko­mo­tiv in Group A ahead of their re­turn fix­ture in Tashkent next month.

Al Ahli of the UAE and Saudi Ara­bia’s Al Ta­woon drew 0-0. AFP

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