Sogdiana Jizzakh, a club from Uzbekistan. through to the Inter-zone finals as the first team after victory over Eastern Long Lions, a club from Hong Kong with a score of 1-0 in the AFC Cup 2022 Inter-zone semi-finals at Sogdiana Stadium, Jizzakh.
Sogdiana controlled the opening exchanges only to struggle to create clear-cut openings despite their dominance. Luka Cermej went closest for Bakaev’s side in the third minute when he screwed his shot well wide.
Eastern had been second best throughout the first quarter of the game and yet almost took the lead in the 24th minute. Leung Kwun-chung’s free-kick from near the left touchline was nodded just off target by Marcos Gondra when the defender found himself inexplicably unmarked seven yards from goal.
That was a rare sight of goal for the Hong Kong Premier League side and Losada’s side rode their luck eight minutes before the break to stay level.
Javokhir Kakhramonov’s corner from the right was met by Shokhruz Norkhonov’s powerful header but, with goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai beaten to his left, the ball thumped back off the inside of the post.
Eastern’s Wu Chun-ming shot straight at Milan Mitrovic before Kakhramonov fizzed his long-range effort over the bar with a minute remaining with Sogdiana continuing to control proceedings without finding a way past the Eastern defence before the interval.
Yapp was forced to paw the ball from under his crossbar after Jasur Khasanov’s free-kick and looked set to continue frustrating Sogdiana until Norkhonov eventually converted.
The goal came when Denisov, on as a 55th minute substitute for Shavkat Salomov, delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right that swung towards goal and Norkhonov rose unmarked to steer his header into the top corner, finally beating Yapp to take Sogdiana through.
Sogdiana will play either ATK Mohun Bagan or Kuala Lumpur City on 5 October.
Credit Photo : AFC