February 03, (THEWILL) – Qatar, the defending champions and tournament hosts, edged past a valiant Uzbekistan side on penalties to book their place in the semi-finals of the 2024 Asian Cup. Over 58,000 vociferous fans packed Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday evening, to witness a thrilling contest that ended 1-1 after extra time.
The hosts took the lead in the first half courtesy of an Utkir Yusupov own goal. However, Uzbekistan equalised through Odiljon Hamrobekov just before the hour mark. With the scores locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes, the tie went to penalties. Qatar goalkeeper, Meshaal Barsham, emerged as the shootout hero, saving three spot kicks. Pedro Miguel then calmly converted the winning penalty to seal a 3-2 victory on penalties for Qatar.
The result sets up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with in-form Iran. Qatar will need to be at their very best to progress to retain their Asian Cup crown on home soil. However, buoyed by their partisan home support, the Maroons will back themselves to advance to the final.
Defeating the much-fancied Uzbeks will provide Qatar with a major confidence boost. Hamrobekov’s second half strike was the first goal they had conceded in the tournament. The hosts proved their defensive resilience and mental strength by bouncing back to prevail on penalties.
The dramatic victory keeps alive Qatar’s hopes of defending their Asian Cup title. The partisan home fans will be desperate to cheer their team onto more penalty shootout heroics in the semi-finals against Iran.
About the Author
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.