Australia end Asian Cup group campaign with Uzbekistan draw

Uzbekistan joined Australia in the Asian Cup round of 16 on Tuesday after the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in their final group game while Syria beat India in the other encounter in Group B to qualify for the knockouts for the first time.

Australia had already qualified for the knockout stage and guaranteed a top-two finish, with the result moving the 2015 champions to seven points while Uzbekistan finished second with five points.,

"We came here at the start of the tournament to top the group and we've got the job done," Australia head coach Graham Arnold told reporters.

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"It's the most important thing and we move forward now one game at a time and see who our next opponent is."

Australia had an early goal ruled out for offside but they took the lead at the stroke of halftime when they were awarded a controversial penalty following a VAR check for a handball from Odiljon Hamrobekov. 

The midfielder was attempting to make a sliding tackle to stop Kusini Yengi in the box when his trailing hand made contact with the ball, with Martin Boyle putting away the spot kick confidently after sending Utkir Yusupov the wrong way.

"The Australian coach was honest and said it was never a penalty," Uzbekistan coach Srecko Katanec said. "They have to review a little bit the connection between VAR and the referee.

"The referee didn't give the penalty and in a situation like this they called the referee directly, I don't know the communication.

"If this is the penalty rules, then nobody knows the rules. There's no intention and still it's a yellow card."

But Uzbekistan equalised in the 78th minute when Azizbek Turgunboev climbed over the defence to head home Jaloliddin Masharipov's cross at the far post.

In the other group game, Syria beat India 1-0 after Omar Khribin -- the 2017 Asian Footballer of the Year -- netted in the 76th minute for what was the country's first goal of the tournament.

Syria finished with four points and the AFC later clarified that they are also through to the round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams across all groups "regardless of final results from other groups".

It marks the first time Syria have advanced to the knockouts since their Asian Cup debut in 1980.

India exit the competition without scoring a goal in three losses.