Uzbekistan fight back to hold New Zealand
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- Santiago del Estero: Uzbekistan came from behind to hold New Zealand 2-2 to keep their hopes of advancing to the FIFA U20 World Cup Argentina 2023 knockout stage alive on Tuesday.
Down 2-0 by the 40th minute, Uzbekistan narrowed the deficit through Abbosbek Fayzullaev with Sherzod Esanov salvaging a point for the reigning AFC U20 Asian Cup™ holders in the third minute of added time.
Uzbekistan play Guatemala in their final Group A tie on Friday with their fate very much in their own hands.
Having opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Guatemala, another victory would surely boost their chances of advancing and New Zealand started on the front foot at the Santiago del Estero Stadium.
Benjamin Wallace fired the Kiwis in front with a long-range left-footed effort from well over 25 metres out in the 23rd minute, with the ball dipping quickly and bouncing in front of Uzbekistan goalkeeper Otabek Boymurodov before he had time to make the save.
New Zealand star man Jay Herdman scored the pick of the bunch five minutes before half-time to double their lead. The No 10 spun his defender with the ball before he unleashed an unstoppable effort into the opposite top corner past a helpless Boymurodov.
Whatever Uzbekistan head coach Ravshan Khaydarov said at half-time worked, because his Asian champions came out firing from the first whistle.
The White Wolves replied with a well-worked goal shortly after the break, ultimately finished off by Fayzullaev in the 51st minute.
They completed the impressive comeback in stoppage time when Zafarmurod Abdirakhmatov craftily picked out a wide open Sherzod Esanov with a cross and the substitute made no mistake, heading past New Zealand keeper Kees Sims to ensure the spoils were shared.
Argentina, who defeated Guatemala 3-0 on Tuesday, top the group on six points with New Zealand on four and Uzbekistan with one.
In Group B action, the United States defeated Fiji 3-0 to lead the standings on six points while Ecuador edged Slovaia 2-1 to draw level with their defeated opponents on three points.
Japan will meet Colombia in a top-of-the-table Group C clash on Wednesday, with the East Asian side having defeated Senegal 1-0 in their opener while Colombia edged Israel 2-1.
Korea Republic will be in action on Thursday with the young Taeguek Warriors also aiming for a win against Honduras, having beaten France 2-1 in their opening Group F tie on Monday.
Iraq will look to bounce back against Tunisia, having lost 4-0 to Uruguay in Group E on Monday.