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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Socceroos beat Uzbekistan after 4-2 penalty shootout win

The reigning champions took their time to wake up in this last-16 encounter and Uzbekistan so nearly made them pay. Eldor Shomurodov came close to bagging his fifth of the tournament, having burst through the Socceroos rearguard, but Mathew Ryan covered his angles well. Javokhir Sidikov’s effort from distance left the keeper as a spectator, however, but it whistled narrowly past the upright.
After the break Australia rediscovered their zest, rocking the Uzbekis onto the back foot having survived the earlier onslaught. The introduction of Mathew Leckie saw Graham Arnold’s side add a dose of incision to their output, but extra time followed as they were unable to pick the lock. With neither side fashioning a clear opportunity in the final 30 minutes, it was left to Ryan to pull off a pair of saves in the shoot-out – his first for the national side – before Leckie tucked home the winning spot-kick.

Mat Ryan saved two of the White Wolves' penalties, denying Islom Tukhthakhujaev and substitute Marat Bikmaev.
The shootout came after a tense match, which lacked many clear opportunities, finished goalless after 120 minutes.
Australia threw on Leckie for his first appearance of the tournament midway through the second-half as they searched for inspiration, with the former Adelaide United man instantly sparking life into the Socceroos' attack.
The Hertha Berlin winger had Australia's best chance of the second half when he ran into the Uzbek box from the right-hand channel but his effort was pawed away by Ignatiy Nesterov.
The 27-year-old also forced Nesterov to palm away another dangerous shot from outside the box as Australia pressed for a goal.