Uzbekistan coach Rauf Inileyev rued his side’s misfortune as they exited the AFC Asian Cup at the hands of three-time champions Saudi Arabia.
The Uzbek coach saw his side hit the woodwork on five occasions and have a goal disallowed as their quest for a place in their first-ever Asian Cup semi-final came unstuck.
Yasser Al Qahtani gave the Saudis the lead after just three minutes and substitute Ahmed Al Mousa doubled his side’s advantage 15 minutes from time before Pavel Solomin scored what turned out to be little more than a consolation for the Uzbeks.
But the scoreline did not tell the whole story as Maksim Shatskikh, Server Djeparov, Aziz Ibragimov and Alexander Geynrikh all hit the woodwork, while Hayrulla Karimov’s header hit the frame of the goal before Solomin bundled the ball home.
Shatskikh also had a goal disallowed in the 28th minute after Yasser Al Mosailem fumbled Djeperov’s free kick, allowing the Dynamo Kiev striker to fire high into the net. But the effort was ruled out for offside.
"All the games at this stage are very hard to play and each result will be a surprise," said Inileyev. "But today football was not on our side. We had a goal that wasn’t counted by the referee. We were unlucky
"We played nice football and I enjoyed the game but I’m not satisfied with the result. Both teams played well but we weren’t lucky."
Inileyev refused to point the finger at referee Kwon Jung-chul or his assistant Jeong Hae-sang after they ruled out what appeared to be an equaliser for Shatskikh.
"Today the god of football was not with us," he said. "After the game I never blame referees who make mistakes and today we were simply not lucky."
The 56-year-old refused to be drawn on which team he felt would go on to lift the Asian Cup in Jakarta next Sunday, although he was impressed by the performance of the Saudis.
"Of course, the four teams at this stage are good enough to win the title and they are capable of winning the title, but I don’t bet in these tournaments who will be the champions because it’s very hard to determine," he said.
"There are no favourites in these tournaments. Many experts said Iran would be among the top four teams but they were knocked out today. I would say Saudi had a good chance to be the champions."