Uzbekistan: Bunyodkor as good as seal fourth straight title
Bunyodkor (17 played, 45 points) took a huge step towards a fourth successive Uzbek championship title on Sunday when defeating arch rivals and nearest challengers Pakhtakor 2-1. The win took the league leaders a massive nine points of Pakhtakor with just nine matches to play.
With over an hour of the game played it seemed a real possibility that the earlier goalless score line in the first meeting of the two Tashkent rivals this season would be replicated. However Bunyodkor finally broke the deadlock after 70 minutes when Viktor Karpenko shot from long range and the shot proved too hot to handle for visiting keeper Timur Juraev. The lead was doubled just two minutes later when Serbian forward Miloš Trifunović tucked the ball home to give Bunyodkor the cushion they needed to approach the end of the game. Pakhtakor did pull one back through Alisher Azizov’s header in the last minute of the game but it proved a mere consolation for the visitors.
The win should help Bunyodkor secure the 2011 Oliy League title whilst Pakhtakor will now have to fight it out for the second AFC Champions League spot along with third place Nasaf Qarshi whose 1-0 away win at Metallurg Bekabad leaves them just two points further behind. Nasaf, who knocked Bunyodkor out of the Uzbek Cup semi-finals last week, have never made it to the AFC Champions League and are determined to make it into next year’s tournament. Their league meeting on October 13th at home to Pakhtakor could tell us whether they will have the legs to go all the way this time around.