Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Uzbekistan hammer hapless Malaysia

HOSTS TAKE POUNDINGThe Asian Cup's lowest-ranked team showed why they have that dubious distinction by disappointing their home fans once again yesterday

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

Uzbekistan hammered Malaysia 5-0 yesterday to leave the Asian Cup co-hosts with no realistic hope of reaching the knock-out rounds.

A double strike from Dynamo Kiev's Maksim Shatskikh, an Ulugbek Bakaev penalty and goals from Timur Kapadze and Aziz Ibragimov sunk Malaysia, leaving them rock-bottom of Group C with no points from two matches.

Malaysia, thrashed 5-1 by China in their first outing, need to beat triple champions Iran by a substantial margin if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Uzbekistan kept up the pressure on the top two with Iran playing group leaders China today.

Both sides made wholesale changes but Malaysia struggled even to touch the ball in the opening minutes and it was no surprise when Uzbekistan opened the scoring early on.

Star striker Shatskikh, returning from suspension, planted the simplest of headers past goalkeeper Azizon Kadir on 10 minutes after Server Djeparov's floated free-kick was allowed to bounce in the box.

Malaysia, the tournament's lowest ranked team and still smarting from the China defeat, at least showed some fight with Hairuddin Omar unlucky to be given offside and Shahrulnizam Mustapha's goal-bound shot nudged wide.

But Kapadze put paid to their hopes with a contender for goal of the tournament near the half-hour mark.

He wrong-footed Khaironnisam Hussain before shepherding the bouncing ball past three defenders and finishing sharply.

Hapless 'keeper Azizon only had himself to blame for Uzbekistan's third when he up-ended the on-rushing Bakaev in first-half injury time.

Bakaev coolly slotted the resulting penalty into the center of the Malaysian goal.

After the break Shatskikh and substitute Ibragimov both went close before Malaysia's Indra Putra made space with a deft flick but curled his shot wide.

Djeparov then thundered a shot against the bar before Uzbekistan finished with a late goal flurry.

Ibragimov scored on 85 minutes to make it four before Shatskikh rounded off a neat passing move to complete the rout. Azizon made a smart stop to prevent Djeparov from making it six.

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