Lights out for Uzbeks as Jordan win marathon
A Jordanese fan smiles as she watches her national team play their 2014 World Cup qualifier football match against Uzbekistan at the King Abdullah international stadium in Amman on September 6, 2013.
The nerveless visitors came back after conceding an early goal, leaving the scores at 1-1 at full-time, and then held firm despite an 18-minute delay when the lights went at Pakhtakor Stadium.
And in a gripping shoot-out they were able to celebrate a scarcely believable triumph when Anzur Ismailov failed to convert the decisive spot-kick.
Jordan, who were held 1-1 at home in last week's first leg, now go into a two-legged tie against the South America's fifth placed qualifiers -- currently Uruguay -- for their first ever World Cup spot.
But the result meant further heartbreak for Uzbekistan, who also went out after a chaotic game in Tashkent when they last reached this stage eight years ago.
The evening had started promisingly for the hosts when they took full advantage of a free-kick for an infringement on the edge of the box on just five minutes.
Two-time Asian player of the year Server Djeparov's curling delivery was parried into the path of Ismailov, who buried the rebound on the far post.
The White Wolves were in the ascendancy for most of the first half but Jordan fired a warning when Ahmed Saleh grazed the netting with a snap shot on 40 minutes.
And just two minutes later, Saeed Murjan levelled the tie when he ran onto to a loose clearance and rammed a scorching half-volley past Murotjon Zukhurov in the Uzbek goal.
With the stakes sky-high, the game remained surprisingly open and both sides threw on attacking players in the early stages of the second half.
Uzbek substitute Sanjar Tursunov needed only to choose his spot when he was picked out by Jasur Khasanov near the hour-mark, but he blazed over wastefully from inside the box.
Djeparov, his crewcut embellished with lightning-shaped tramlines, remained a handful and Uzbekistan nearly struck again when one of his free-kicks found the head of debutant Igor Sergeev.
Jordan appeared content to play for extra-time and there was no surprise when the game went to an additional 30 minutes, with penalties looming.
A Djeparov free-kick felled Jordan's Adnan Suleiman when it caught him in the face and Uzbekistan's Ivan Nagaev was booked for diving when he tumbled in the box.
But there were farcical scenes when, 10 minutes into the first extra period, the floodlights failed at the venerable venue, prompting loud jeers and a delay of 18 minutes.
Both teams were forced to leave the field for an interruption that was so long that players and officials were seen doing warm-up stretches before the game restarted.
The incident sucked any remaining urgency from the game and, with little attacking threat from either side, there was no surprise when it went to a penalties.
Uzbekistan missed their first two spot-kicks before hauling themselves back into the shoot-out.
But as the teams traded successful kicks Ismailov, scorer of Uzbekistan's goal in normal play, turned fall guy as his failed attempt put Jordan through.
Uzbekistan also suffered a bitter defeat in the Asian play-offs in 2005, when they had a successful penalty against Bahrain chalked off for encroachment.
Their eventual 1-0 win in Tashkent was then surprisingly annulled over the refereeing error, and Bahrain drew the replay 1-1 edging the tie on away goals.