An inspired performance by Dragan Tomic gave Bank of Beirut FC a comfortable 8-3 victory over FC Almalyk, keeping alive their dreams of a place in the last eight of the AFC Futsal Club Championship Vietnam 2017 on Sunday.
Following their opening day defeat to Bluewave Chonburi, Bank of Beirut were fully aware of the stakes but despite the Lebanon side's early possession, it was FC Almalyk who created the first chance inside three minutes. Tojiboev Shukhrat clipped a lovely pass to release Abdumavlyanov Farkhod on the left flank, who then guided a dangerous cross across the goalmouth but Kuralov Sunnat failed to get his foot on a simple tap-in.
The Lebanon side then managed to convert possession into a goal, finding inspiration and a touch of class from Dragan Tomic. The Serbian import, who featured for Al-Mayadeen - Lebanon’s representatives in the 2016 edition of the competition - showed towering strength to hold off his marker before turning past two defenders to drive a powerful left-footed shot to give Bank of Beirut the lead in the fifth minute.
Tomic played a pivotal role in extending Bank of Beirut’s lead seven minutes later, backing away from his marker, before setting-up Moustafa Serhan, who smashed home with a thunderous shot. The match was turning into the Tomic show as the 26-year-old came close to increasing his tally after connecting masterfully from a right corner by Iranian Behroz Jafari.
The Uzbeks were then given a lifeline - somewhat against the run of play - after goal-scorer Serhan was penalised for handling the ball in the area. Irsaliev Dilshod stepped up with an unstoppable shot despite Hussein Hamadani guessing right, just two minutes before the break.
Bank of Beirut came storming out after the breather with Ahmad Kheir El Dine nearly increasing their lead just seconds into the second half after some nifty footwork saw him dribble past three Almalyk players, including goalkeeper Tyugayev Klim, but Jamoliddin Sharipov made a goal-line interception.
Just a minute later, the miss would prove costly after Artur Yunusov equalised for the Uzbeks with a well-executed half-volley after an exquisite chip by Jamoliddin Sharipov from the kick-in.
Bank of Beirut, however responded in style, with Tomic again using his physique to shield the ball before guiding it to Mouhammad Hammoud who picked his spot with a first-time effort in the 26th minute.
The man of the hour, Tomic then added his second, brushing off Konstantin Sviridov before toe-poking the ball past Elibaev. Karim Abou Zeid then made it five when Bank of Beirut were awarded a free-kick after a foul on Tomic.
Almalyk then went on a five-men offensive, a move that had proved costly for several teams in the group stage and Almalyk suffered the same fate as El Dine drifted the ball home from his half for Bank of Beirut's sixth with five minutes remaining.
The match then saw a quick succession of own goals by both sides - first by Almalyk custodian Elibaev and then by Bank of Beirut's Serhan before Jafari added a simple tap-in to round off a resounding victory for the Lebanon side.
With their group campaign now over, Bank of Beirut will have to wait until Tuesday for the outcome of Almalyk’s final tie against Chonburi Bluewave to see if they progress to the last eight.