19 apr 22:42
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ACL MD5 - GROUP C: AL JAZIRA 1-3 PAKHTAKOR

Abu Dhabi: Pakhtakor moved to within a point of Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the battle for second place in Group C of the 2016 AFC Champions League on Tuesday as Igor Sergeev scored twice in his side’s 3-1 win over Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates.

The Uzbekistan international claimed the decisive goal 64 minutes from time and just two minutes after Ali Mabkhout had cancelled out Sherzodbek Karimov’s opener from the penalty spot.

Sergeev then completed the scoring with a penalty of his own seven minutes from time as Pakhtakor move on to seven points from their opening five games.

That leaves them just one behind Al Hilal, who lost 2-0 to Tractorsazi Tabriz earlier in the day as the Iranians secured their place in the Round of 16. Al Jazira, meanwhile, remain bottom of the group with just a solitary point.

“The win is good for us as it maintains our chances in the group,” said Pakhtakor assistant coach Grigoriy Kolosovskiy. “We still have a chance to advance to the knockout stage of the competition if we win the last match against Al Jazira in Tashkent.

“We had a good victory today although we made some mistakes which we must fix in our last match. We expect a tough match in Tashkent but hopefully we can prepare well in the local league.”

Pakhtakor had the perfect start to the game, taking the lead after just eight minutes when, following a foul on Jaloliddin Masharipov, Karimov scored with a dipping, curling long-range free kick that beat Al Jazira goalkeeper Khalif Al Senaani thanks to its movement.

The home side – as has been the case throughout the group stage of this year’s AFC Champions League – carried little attacking threat, with Ahmed Al Attas missing the target and Thiago Neves going close with a free kick.

Despite their struggles, Al Jazira pulled level in the 62nd minute after Pakhtakor goalkeeper Nikita Ribkin upended Thiago Neves in the box and Mabkhout scored from the penalty spot, sending the custodian the wrong way.

Pakhtakor, however, restored their advantage soon after when Sergeev capitalised on Salim Rashid’s dithering in defence to dispossess him before running in on goal and striking his left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

The Uzbeks continued to look the team more likely to score and, with seven minutes remaining, Sergeev claimed his second and Pakhtakor’s third.

Sultan Al Suwaidi brought the 22-year-old forward down in the penalty area and he stepped up to score and keep his side’s hopes of a place in the next phase alive ahead of their game against Al Jazira on Matchday Six.

“We had a good match against Pakhtakor and we didn’t deserve to lose tonight,” said Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate. “I want to thank the players for what they showed and for the effort they have put in today although I’m not happy with the result.

“We made some mistakes in midfield and we also had some individual defensive mistakes. We created many scoring chances but we failed to score while we gave our opponents the chance to put some pressure on us.”

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