AL KHOR, Qatar, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Defending champions and hosts Qatar beat Uzbekistan 3-2 on penalties in a thrilling Asian Cup quarter-final that ended 1-1 after extra time at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday to set up a tantalising clash with Iran.
With nearly 59,000 fans in attendance, Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham stood strong to save three penalties in the shootout before Pedro Miguel converted the decisive spot kick to send Qatar through to the semi-finals once again.
Qatar had taken the lead shortly before the half-hour mark when captain Hassan Al Haydos dribbled into the box and his attempted cross took a deflection which went through the gloves of Utkir Yusupov into his own net to go down as an own goal.
But Uzbekistan did not give up and took the game to Qatar, having several attempts on goal until the 59th minute when Odiljon Hamrobekov managed to take a shot that brushed the fingers of Barsham in goal before finding the net.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in 90 minutes while Uzbekistan survived a late rally from Qatar in extra time to force penalties, where Uzbekistan’s Rustam Ashurmatov and Qatar’s 2019 top scorer Almoez Ali had their efforts saved.
Qatar had their hearts in their mouths when Al-Mahdi Ali Mukhtar skied his effort but Barsham turned saviour to seal their progress and give the hosts a memorable night in the desert.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran knocked out four-times champions and the continent’s top-ranked side Japan after skipper Alireza Jahanbakhsh converted a penalty in second-half stoppage time to seal a 2-1 victory.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Doha;Editing by Christian Radnedge)