Dubai: Strikes from Esmail Matar and Saeed Al Khatheri were cancelled out by Sanjar Tursunov and Server Djeparov as the UAE drew Friday’s friendly at Al Shabab Stadium 2-2 with Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan were in search of revenge over the UAE after their last match together in March saw the Emirates advance to the 2012 Olympics at the Uzbeks’ expense following a surprise 3-2 qualifying win in Tashkent.
The two teams are also grouped together along with Hong Kong and Vietnam in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers, which begin in February, giving Friday’s friendly match added spice.
Despite the grudge, it was the UAE who came out the stronger of the two sides and Matar opened the scoring inside the half-hour, side-footing Saeed Al Khatheri’s headed lob over the defence and past Uzbekistan’s
goalkeeper Murotjon Zukhurov. Matar had chipped the ball back to Khatheri from Omar Abdul Rahman’s long ball. The goal followed an earlier chance inside 10 minutes for the UAE when Hamdan Al Kamali struck the post from a 25-yard free-kick.
Up the other end, Al Kamali had almost turned villain by twice letting the ball through his legs to allow Sanjar Tursunov and Fozil Musaev through on goal on two separate occasions, only for the Uzbeks to falter in front of UAE keeper Ali Khaseif.
Esmail Al Hammadi missed a similar opportunity, after he was through on goal from Abdul Rahman’s pass, before Uzbekistan equalised on the stroke of half-time. Abdullah Moosa cleared Oleg Zoteev’s cross only as far as Tursunov, who struck the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
On the hour another Abdul Rahman, Matar and Khatheri link-up saw Matar backheel Abdul Rahman’s pass into Khatheri’s path to score the UAE’s second goal.
Server Djeparov then equalised from the penalty spot, after Al Kamali fouled Zoteev in the box. After Khaseif saved the first effort, Djeparov followed up for the goal.
Despite bringing on Haboosh Saleh, who scored the third and winning goal in Tashkent seven months ago, the UAE couldn’t secure a similar win and had to settle for a draw instead. After three games in charge, coach Mahdi Ali has now lost, won and drawn one apiece after last month’s 1-0 away loss to Japan and 3-0 home win over Kuwait.