Oman shocked Uzbekistan 2-0 today to reach next month's one-off play-off game against Senegal for a place at the London Olympics. Two first-half strikes were enough to gain the necessary win for Oman, who also weathered a late red card to influential midfielder Eid Mohammed Eid Al Farsi.
Oman's very presence in the three-team Asian play-offs had been called "a miracle" by manager Paul Le Guen, as it owed much to the 3-0 win they were awarded after Qatar fielded an ineligible player in their November group game.
Ahead of today's clash Oman knew nothing less than victory would do after Syria's last-gasp equaliser held them to a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Uzbekistan needed only a draw after they beat Syria 2-1 to top the round-robin mini-table.
But it was Oman who took the lead in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi against their more favoured opponents when Hussain Al Hadri converted a penalty on 16 minutes. And they delivered the hammer blow when Raed Ibrahim Saleh chested down a cross from the right and lashed home the second from close range on the stroke of half-time.
The straight red for Al Farsi, who clattered Uzbek number nine Kenja Turaev, reduced Oman to ten men for the last 16 minutes and cued up a tense finish at the My Dinh National Stadium. But Uzbekistan paid for a lack of quality in front of goal and captain Fozil Musaev's wild slice over the bar, on 85 minutes, was as close as they came to reducing the deficit.