Kazakhstan claimed their first competitive win since joining UEFA, as goals from Kairat Ashirbekov and Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev put them on their way to a memorable Group A defeat of Serbia who finished with ten men.
Pressure on Serbia
The visitors had trailed group leaders Finland by a point at kick-off and a victory could have taken them top tonight. But they were placed under early pressure in Almaty and this menace materialised into two second-half strikes within the space of 14 minutes. First Ashirbekov fired a right-footed shot into goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković's bottom corner, then Kazakhstan secured a two-goal cushion as Ruslan Baltiev's inswinging corner was nodded high into the centre of the net from five metres by Zhumaskaliyev.
Stojković had been forced to parry Zhumaskaliyev's drive as early as the eighth minute, while Murat Suyumagambetov also tested the Serbia keeper from distance, though the latter was equal to the task. After the first-half stalemate, the game sprung into life with Ashirbekov's breakthrough. Serbia sought an instant response through Miloš Krasić, with the PFC CSKA Moskva midfielder's close-range attempt being tipped to safety by home custodian David Loria.
Nemanja Vidić was next to threaten for the away team, directing Krasić's corner just over the bar with a header. Zhumaskaliyev made Serbia regret that miss on 61 minutes, although the Kazakh advantage was soon reduced to one as Zigić nodded Milan Stepanov's long ball into the bottom corner seven minutes later to restore hope. At the other end, Sergey Skorykh came close to extending Kazakhstan's lead when he was denied by a brilliant Stojković stop, before Serbia's misery was completed in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Zigić was red-carded for fouling Skorykh.
Kazakhstan, who failed to win any of their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after gaining UEFA membership, remain fifth in Group A following six games of their debut EURO campaign. Arno Pijpers' side do not return to action until June, while Serbia welcome Portugal on Wednesday.