Tashkent: Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor Tashkent defeated Iraq’s Air Force Club 2-1 in a 2019 AFC Champions League Preliminary Stage 2 tie at the Pakhtakor Markaziy Stadium on Tuesday.
The win secures Pakhtakor’s passage into the playoffs where they will face United Arab Emirates’ Al-Nasr Sports Club on February 19.
Pakhtakor started the match brightly and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession against the defending AFC Cup champions Air Force Club.
Shota Arveladze’s side, who finished runners-up in the 2018 Uzbekistan League, were making their 15th appearance in the Continental competition and looked formidable in attack.
Although Pakhtakor had more looks on goal, both sides were equally matched as the first half ended goalless.
Air Force Club found themselves on the back foot in the second half as Pakhtakor continued their dominant display.
The Iraq outfit, who have never progressed beyond the group stages of the AFC Champions League, found it hard to break down their opponents despite the introduction of striker Hammadi Ahmad who came in for midfielder Mohammad Qasem in the 57th minute.
Pakhtakor’s persistence finally paid off when they broke the deadlock in the 76th minute courtesy of Jaloliddin Masharipov’s strike.
The home side widened their advantage 12 minutes later through Marat Bikmaev’s effort.
Air Force Club refused to give in and pulled one back with three minutes remaining through Ahmad’s effort but it proved to be a mere consolation as Pakhtakor sealed their place in the playoffs.