Tadjiyev treble helps Uzbeks crush Qatar

TASHKENT - A Farhod Tadjiyev hat-trick helped Uzbekistan revive hopes of reaching their first World Cup finals with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Qatar in an ill-tempered Group One qualifier on Saturday. All Tadjiyev's goals came from headers as his team climbed off the bottom of the table and into third place, boosting their chances of securing a playoff berth for the 2010 tournament in South Africa. "I'd like to thank my players. They played very well and we are back in the race," Uzbek coach Mirdjalal Kasimov told reporters. After a series of bad tackles and scuffles led to Bilal Rajab's dismissal, Tadjiyev opened the scoring on 34 minutes when he nodded in Odil Ahmedov's deflected shot after goalkeeper Mohamed Ahmed fumbled a corner. Tadjiyev pounced again in first-half stoppage time with a bullet effort into the far corner from 10 metres. AUDACIOUS CHIP He made it 3-0 with a diving header eight minutes after the break, connecting perfectly with an audacious chip into the area from Sakhob Jurayev. The Uzbeks added a fourth goal just after the hour when Anvarjon Soliev strolled past his marker and casually headed home a cross from the right. The Uzbeks are level on four points with fourth-placed Bahrain and Qatar, now bottom in fifth spot. Qatar coach Bruno Metsu refused to give up hope of progressing. "We have lost our last three matches and haven't scored any goals but this happens in football. We still have a chance to qualify for the playoff stage," he said. "Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Qatar all have the same number of points and all of them are at the same level." Japan lead with 11 points followed by Australia on 10, putting both teams on the brink of qualification. The third-placed side can also advance through the playoffs.