Uzbekistan ensured they will remain in contention until the last day of the tournament, powering to a comfortable 3-0 over in-form Afghanistan at a scorching Hisor Central Stadium.
The loss is a significant blow to Afghanistan’s hopes of winning the title, with Wahidulah Wahidi’s side now three points and a significant goal difference gap behind Tajikistan, who they will meet in their final match on Thursday.
With the mercury touching 40 degrees in Hisor, Azamat Abduraimov’s side raced into a third-minute lead through Abukhodir Luhasnov before Nasaf youngster Alisher Khayrullaev celebrated his promotion to the starting line-up in the 19th minute by steering in his second goal in two days.
The impressive Rustam Turdimurodov added a third in the 48th minute and Uzbekistan showed an improved second-half display from the one against Kyrgyz Republic on Monday, keeping their hopes of lifting the trophy alive.
Both on seven points, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan remain in mutual contention to win the title, with Afghanistan – who face table-topping Tajikistan on Thursday – retaining the power to directly influence their fate.