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Big Mak fries Malaysia

14 July 2007 18:59

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Man-of-the-match Maksim Shatskikh struck twice as Uzbekistan hammered Malaysia 5-0 on Saturday to leave the Asian Cup co-hosts with no realistic hope of reaching the knock-out rounds.

Timur Kapadze and Aziz Ibragimov also weighed in alongside an Ulugbek Bakaev penalty to leave Malaysia rock-bottom of Group C with no points from two matches.

Malaysia, thrashed 5-1 by China in their first outing, need to beat triple champions Iran by a large margin and hope other results go their way if they are to qualify for the last 16.

Uzbekistan kept up the pressure on the top two, who play on Sunday, and served notice to China ahead of their crunch final group match next week.

"We never expected to win 5-0, more like 4-0," said Uzbek coach Rauf Inileyev.

"We're happy but the score is not important. What's important is we showed how we can play, we won and we earned our three points."

Both sides made wholesale changes but Malaysia struggled even to touch the ball in the opening minutes and it was no surprise when Uzbekistan opened the scoring early on.

Dynamo Kiev striker Shatskikh, returning from suspension, planted the simplest of headers past goalkeeper Azizon Kadir on 10 minutes after Server Djeparov's floated free-kick was allowed to bounce in the box.

Malaysia, the tournament's lowest ranked team who were lampooned by media after the China loss, at least showed some fight with Hairuddin Omar unlucky to be given offside and Shahrulnizam Mustapha's goal-bound shot nudged wide.

But Kapadze put paid to their hopes with a contender for goal of the tournament near the half-hour mark.

Kapadze, an ever-present at the last tournament in 2004, wrong-footed Khaironnisam Hussain before shepherding the bouncing ball past three defenders and finishing sharply with his left foot.

Hapless 'keeper Azizon only had himself to blame for Uzbekistan's third when he up-ended the on-rushing Bakaev in first-half injury time. Bakaev coolly slotted the penalty into the centre of the Malaysian goal.

After the break Shatskikh and substitute Ibragimov both went close before Malaysia's Indra Putra made space with a deft flick but curled his shot wide.

Djeparov then thundered a shot against the bar before Uzbekistan twisted the knife with a late goal flurry.

Ibragimov turned in Pavel Solomin's cross on 85 minutes to make it four before Shatskikh rounded off a neat passing move to complete the rout. Azizon made a smart stop to prevent Djeparov from making it six.

"We could have had more but it's very difficult to play in this climate," commented Shatskikh, who only arrived on Wednesday from a training camp in Austria.

Malaysia coach Norizan Bakar had little to say after a second embarrassing reverse which highlighted contrasting fortunes with fellow hosts Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"We tried to correct what went wrong against China but unfortunately it just didn't go to plan," said Norizan.

"Uzbekistan are a more physical team and we couldn't take our chances. I'm not happy with the result."

Malaysia are a former force in regional football, qualifying for the 1972 and 1980 Olympics, but are playing their first Asian Cup in 27 years thanks to being co-hosts.

Uzbekistan were quarter-finalists in 2004. The former Soviet republic's finest moment was winning the Asian Games title on debut in 1994.

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