Australia draws 1-1 with Uzbekistan to top group, advance to round of 16

The Socceroos drew 1-1 with Uzbekistan to finish their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2023 Asian Cup group stage unbeaten and advance to the round of 16 as group leaders.

The Socceroos drew 1-1 with Uzbekistan in their third and final Group B match of the tournament at the Al Janub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar on Wednesday (July 23).

The Socceroos (7 points), who had already qualified for the round of 16 in the second round of group play, secured top spot in the group with an unbeaten run of two wins and one draw.

Australia, the 2015 champions, will face the third-place team from Pool A/C/D in the Round of 16.

Uzbekistan also advanced to the Round of 16 with one win and two draws (5 points) and will face the second-place team from Group F for a spot in the quarterfinals.

The two teams battled for the top spot early on.

Australia took the lead in the 11th minute when Kusini Yengi’s header rattled the post from a cross from the left flank, but the goal was disallowed when Martin Boyle, who had contested the header moments earlier, was ruled offside.

In the 41st minute, Relay McGregor’s left-footed shot from a cutback after Yengi had cut in from the left side of the penalty area went just wide of the right post.

However, video assistant referee (VAR) showed that the ball had been touched in a tackle by Uzbekistan’s Odhi Johnham Obekov just before Yengi’s cutback, and the referee awarded a penalty kick after an ‘on-field review’.

Australia took the penalty in first-half stoppage time and Boyle converted with a right-footed shot to make it 1-0 at halftime.

Uzbekistan’s fightback began at the start of the second half, with Umarbek Eshmurodov heading home a ball into the box from a free kick in the 15th minute, but the chance to equalize was ruled out for offside.

Uzbekistan remained focused in search of an equalizer and finally found it in the 33rd minute when Azizbek Turgunboyev headed home a cross from the left flank by Zaroridin Masharipov in front of the goal area to draw 1-1.

In the same group, Syria defeated India 1-0 earlier in the day in their third and final group game at the Albayt Stadium in Al-Khor.

With four points from one win, one draw, and one loss, Syria finished third in the group, ahead of India (W0), who lost three games, and secured a spot in the round of 16.

After a scoreless first half, Syria broke through on the counterattack in the 33rd minute when Ibrahim Hessar’s cutback from the left side of the penalty area was met by Omar Karbin with a right-footed shot from the edge of the box to rattle the net for a 1-0 win.

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