Uzbekistan nestled into second in Group D of AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers with a comfortable 3-1 win over Lebanon at the Tahnoun Bin Mohammad Stadium in Al Ain on Saturday.
Khalil Khamis’ own goal put the White Wolves ahead on 20 minutes before a brace from Bobir Abdixolikov on 30 and 39 minutes had Uzbekistan 3-0 up at half-time.
Lebanon clawed one back before the hour through Hassan Hammoud, but under sweltering conditions, The Cedars couldn’t restore the deficit.
The result followed the UAE’s earlier 5-0 routing of Nepal at the same venue, which saw the hosts top the group after the first round of matches, with Uzbekistan second, Lebanon third and Nepal fourth.
Uzbekistan’s Jasurbek Yakhshiboev hit the crossbar with a curling effort launched from outside the area on 14 minutes to send Lebanon an early warning, which they didn’t heed.
A similar Yakhshiboev cross was headed in by Khamis six minutes later as an own goal by Lebanon.
Abdixolikov ran onto Ganiev Azizjon’s through ball and drove his effort low into the left corner on the half hour.
Abdixolikov then chested down Sidikov Javokhir’s long ball forward, dragging the ball back and rounding his retreating marker, before drilling it bottom left for a third – and his second - on 39 minutes.
Lebanon pulled one back from the penalty spot on 57 minutes when Otakhonov Abbosjon was adjudged to have shoved Khamis in the box. Hussein Zein saw his spot kick tipped onto the post by keeper Khamraev Dilshod before Hammoud followed up to nick a consolation from the rebound.