A late goal from Vahdat Hanonov rewarded Tajikistan for a strong opening night performance, as the group hosts grabbed a crucial 1-0 win over Lebanon in the later match.
Mubin Ergashev’s side controlled the match for most of the 90 minutes, but they looked like missing out on the three points their play merited until the Istiklol defender ventured forward to strike the winner three minutes from full time to delight the Central Republican Stadium crowd.
The Central Asians were on the front foot for much of the contest, but Jamal Taha’s players defended in numbers. and with no lack of organisation, to keep them at bay.
Tajikistan’s Rustam Soirov breached the defensive line in the 22nd minute, only to be denied by an excellent one-on-one save from goalkeeper Antoine Al Douaihy, and the same attacker was foiled by an incredible goal-line clearance by Mohammad El Hayek in the second half after Al Douaihy had been caught off his line.
But the winner finally arrived in the 87th minute, with Hanonov appearing in the right place at the right time after Lebanon failed to clear a cross, and sending a low effort beyond the reach of Al Douaihy to the delight of Ergashev and his staff.
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