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Key Events

84'
D. Nazarov
Yellow Card
83'
C. Brunt
Goal
81'
P. McNair
C. Evans
75'
A. Ramazanov
R. Qurbanov
74'
C. Evans
Yellow Card
73'
N. McGinn
S. Ferguson
72'
S. Ferguson
Yellow Card
70'
D. Nazarov
E. Mahmudov
66'
O. Norwood
Assist
66'
C. McLaughlin
Goal
62'
W. Grigg
K. Lafferty
46'
D. Yılmaz
R. Şeydayev
40'
C. Brunt
Assist
40'
G. McAuley
Goal
38'
E. Mahmudov
Yellow Card
27'
J. Evans
Assist
27'
K. Lafferty
Goal
3
2
3
2

Stats

Possession
% %
1
4
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 7 1
Total Passes 345 575

Commentary

The referee blows his whistle for the final time and a huge cheer erupts from the Northern Irelands. The home side were excellent all night long, and that impressive win means that they now sit above Azerbaijan in second place ahead of next March's game against an out of form Norway team. They'll certainly fancy their chances after performing so well this evening.
FULL-TIME: NORTHERN IRELAND 4-0 AZERBAIJAN
90' + 2' Chance for McGinn! A Northern Ireland free-kick is flung into the Azerbaijan box before being nodded into the path of McGinn. The substitute throws his body towards the ball as he tries to make contact with it on the edge of the six-yard box, but he's beaten to it at the vital moment by Huseynov and misses out by the narrowest of margins.
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be four minutes of added time.
88' After a lengthy period sitting on the back foot, Northern Ireland push forward on a late attacking move as they try to inflict more misery on their opponents. Magennis, who has operated well over on the right flank, breaks down the wing before trying to cross the ball into the box, but he runs out of pitch and is unable to do so.
86' Amirquliyev flies through the middle of the pitch before chipping a deft pass into the path of Yilmaz. The striker carelessly drifts into an offside position, however, and as soon as he chests the ball down inside the penalty area the linesman's flag is raised for offside.
D. Nazarov
Yellow Card
Azerbaijan
84' Nazarov becomes the latest player to enter the referee's book for a mistimed challenge.
C. Brunt
Goal
Northern Ireland
83' Goal Chris Brunt
P. McNair
C. Evans
Northern Ireland
81' Northern Ireland have made their final change, with Corry Evans making way for McNair.
80' Yilmaz, who initially looked bright after coming off the substitutes' bench but has done little over the past half an hour, picks up the ball in a pocket of space just outside of the Northern Ireland penalty area and shoots, but his effort is poorly hit and sails well wide of its intended target, much to the delight of the home fans behind the goal.
79' With a three-goal lead comfortably under their belts, Northern Ireland are now sitting deep inside their own half of the pitch as they try to frustrate their opponents. So far it has worked well, with the impressive urgency that characterised Azerbaijan's attacks early in the second half fizzing out completely.
78' Ismayilov breaks down the right flank as he tries to carve out a chance on goal for Azerbaijan, but his run forward is slightly mistimed and the linesman's flag is quickly raised as soon as the forward latches on to a lofted pass just outside of the home side's penalty area.
76' McGinn breaks down the left flank and penetrates the penalty area before heading along the byline and chipping a cross towards the far post, but it sails narrowly over the head of Grigg, who had got himself into a good position in front of goal, before being dealt with by Dasdamirov.
A. Ramazanov
R. Qurbanov
Azerbaijan
75' Azerbaijan have made their final alteration of the evening, with Ramazanov coming on to replace Qurbanov.
C. Evans
Yellow Card
Northern Ireland
74' Ouch! Corry Evans because the latest player to enter the referee's book after bringing Amirquliyev crashing to the ground with a poorly-timed sliding challenge. He seems to have injured himself in the process and he's gesturing to the substitutes' bench that he may need to come off.
N. McGinn
S. Ferguson
Northern Ireland
73' That will be Ferguson's last involvement in the game, as he's been replaced by McGinn.
S. Ferguson
Yellow Card
Northern Ireland
72' Mirzabayov flies down the right wing on a determined run before taking on Ferguson, but the Northern Ireland winger brings the Azerbaijan full-back crashing to the ground with a hefty challenge that results in both a yellow card and a one-game suspension.
D. Nazarov
E. Mahmudov
Azerbaijan
70' Azerbaijan have made their second change of the night, with Nazarov coming on to replace Mahmudov for the final 20 minutes of the game.
68' Ismayilov breaks into the right-hand side of the hosts' penalty area as he quickly tries to get his side back into the game, but he's isolated and immediately closed down by a sea of green shirts, which results in him being dispossessed before he can unleash a shot.
O. Norwood
Assist
Northern Ireland
66' Norwood's cross towards the near post perfectly picked out McLaughlin, but, once again, Azerbaijan's defence let themselves down. Time and time again they've struggled to deal with the home side in the air, and it's cost them dearly.
C. McLaughlin
Goal
Northern Ireland
66' GOAL! It's 3-0! Magennis wins Northern Ireland a corner over on the right wing, and it's curled right on to the head of McLaughlin. Again, the defending from Azerbaijan is poor and allows the full-back to beat Agayev with his first ever international goal.
65' Azerbaijan move the ball around nicely deep inside the Northern Ireland half of the pitch before Mahmudov cuts inside from the left flank and unleashes a low strike from 20 yards out. It's well hit by the midfielder, but his effort ends up taking a slight deflection that sends it bouncing a few yards wide of the near post.
63' Northern Ireland win themselves a corner over on the right flank, and it's swung into a dangerous area by Brunt. McAuley rushes towards the ball as he tries to beat Agayev at the far post, but he ends up pushing the goalkeeper to the ground and gives away a free-kick.
W. Grigg
K. Lafferty
Northern Ireland
62' Northern Ireland have made their first alteration of the game, with Lafferty making way for Grigg. Unsurprisingly, the crowd immediately burst into a rousing rendition of Will Grigg's on Fire as the striker makes his way on to the pitch.
61' Dasdamirov goes close! A lovely low cross from Ismayilov finds Yilmaz, who, with his back to goal, holds up the ball before poking it back to Dasdamirov. The left-back meets the ball well before firing a thumping strike towards goal, but it ends up flying just a yard or so over the top of the crossbar.
59' Azerbaijan are enjoying the vast majority of possession as they try to get back into the game, but, as was the case in the first half, they're struggling to do much with the ball. Northern Ireland have dropped deeper in an attempt to hold on to their lead, but their midfielders are doing well to press Azerbaijan's whenever the latter are in possession.
57' Mahmudov is fouled by Corry Evans and wins Azerbaijan a free-kick over on the right flank. They decide to take it short before thumping the ball into the penalty area, but they're too slow in trying to push forward and Northern Ireland are easily able to keep them at bay.
55' Magennis cuts inside from the right wing and quickly tries to pick out Lafferty with a curling cross into the heart of the Azerbaijan penalty area. It's sent slightly too near to Agayev, however, and the goalkeeper is easily able to deal with the danger before the ball can find Lafferty on the edge of the six-yard box.
54' Sloppy play by Azerbaijan gifts the ball to Ferguson, who then bursts down the left wing on a determined counter-attack. He picks out Norwood, who is in a pocket of space just outside of the penalty area, and the midfielder quickly unleashes a thumping strike, but it's closed down at the vital moment and ends up deflecting away from the goal.
52' It's been a good start to the second half from Azerbaijan, who are looking better in advanced positions. Yilmaz's movement seems to be working well for the visitors, whilst Ismayilov looks hungry over on the right flank.
50' Great opportunity for Yilmaz! Ismayilov, who has arguably been Azerbaijan's most dangerous player thus far, cuts inside from the right flank before poking a lovely through-ball into the path of Yilmaz. The striker beats his marker his ease before taking on McGovern, but he's unable to send his strike past the Northern Ireland goalkeeper and has to settle for a corner.
48' After an even start to the game from both sides, Huseynov pushes up towards the halfway line before trying to pick out Yilmaz with a lofted pass forward. It's poorly hit by the centre-back, however, and sails over the substitute's head before bouncing into the hands of McGovern.
D. Yılmaz
R. Şeydayev
Azerbaijan
46' Azerbaijan have decided to make one substitution during the half-time break, with Seydayev making way for Yilmaz.
46' And we're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out on to the pitch ahead of the start of the second half.
It's been a relatively comfortable opening 45 minutes for Northern Ireland, who have impressed at both ends of the pitch and head into the half-time break with a well-deserved two-goal lead. They've been on the front foot for most of the game thus far and have enjoyed over 60% of possession, resulting in Azerbaijan looking uncomfortable as they sit deep inside their own half of the pitch. The visitors have been poor in the air and have gifted the home side with two chances to score, both of which were finished with aplomb.
HALF-TIME: NORTHERN IRELAND 2-0 AZERBAIJAN
45' + 4' Qurbanov breaks through the middle of the pitch and finds himself in a pocket of space before teeing up Ismayilov over on the right-hand side of the Northern Ireland box. The latter takes a quick before firing a low cross towards Seydayev, but Jonny Evans sticks out a foot to stop the ball from reaching the striker.
45' + 2' Azerbaijan push down the right flank before winning themselves their first corner of the game. They send it short before Qarayev tries to pick out Ismayilov with a chipped pass into the right-hand side of the penalty area, but it's woefully hit by the midfielder and sails out of play for a goal-kick.
45' The fourth official has indicated that there will be four minutes of added time.
44' Seydayev, who has barely seen any of the ball since the early stages of the game, is finally presented with a chance to break into the left-hand side of the Northern Ireland penalty area. His time in possession doesn't last long, however, as Jonny Evans is easily able to dispossess the striker before comfortably clearing the danger.
42' A lofted pass from McAuley sails over the top of the Azerbaijan defence and into the path of Lafferty. The striker easily beats both of the visitors' centre-backs before trying to reach the ball on the edge of the penalty area, but Agayev beats him to it before the linesman's flag is eventually raised for offside.
C. Brunt
Assist
Northern Ireland
40' Brunt's cross from the free-kick was excellent, but, once again, Azerbaijan showed their defensive frailties. They haven't looked at all comfortable in the air, and Northern Ireland have made them pay for it.
G. McAuley
Goal
Northern Ireland
40' GOAL! Northern Ireland have doubled their lead! Brunt swings a lovely cross over to the far post, and McAuley rises high above his marker before beating Agayev with a bullet header that flies straight into the back of the net from close range.
E. Mahmudov
Yellow Card
Azerbaijan
38' Mahmudov, who has been flying into everyone with hefty challenges, is finally shown a yellow card for a mistimed tackle on McLaughlin that catches the full-back from behind. The midfielder gives away a free-kick in a dangerous position over on the right wing, but will Northern Ireland be able to make it count?
37' Magennis once again causes problems for the Azerbaijan defence as he weaves his way into the right-hand side of the box. He again tries to pick out Lafferty with a cross over to the far post, but this time it has too much power behind it and sails out of play for a goal-kick.
35' Azerbaijan are momentarily reduced to 10 men as Medmedev gets his bandage reapplied after losing it whilst trying to head the ball away from danger. They try to hold on to the ball before Magennis steals it deep down the right flank, but he's unable to find Lafferty with a low cross that doesn't have enough power behind it.
33' Northern Ireland move the ball around patiently before Davis picks it up in the middle of the pitch. He breaks past a group of Azerbaijan midfielders before trying to slot a through-ball into the path of Magennis, but his pass is intercepted just as it's about to reach the striker.
31' After spending most of the opening half an hour on the back foot, Azerbaijan are now bossing possession. They're failing to do much with it, however, as once again they're forced into retreating after being kept at bay by a wall of Northern Ireland players on the edge of the penalty area.
29' Azerbaijan, who have caused Northern Ireland's defence few problems thus far, quickly push forward as they try to find a way back into the game, but they're unable to find a way through the sea of green shirts in front of them before a low cross from Mirzabayov flies straight into the hands of McGovern.
J. Evans
Assist
Northern Ireland
27' Jonny Evans did well to beat his marker before setting up Lafferty, but questions have to be asked of the Azerbaijan defence. They haven't look at all convincing in the air, and Magennis' throws have constantly caused them problems.
K. Lafferty
Goal
Northern Ireland
27' GOAL! Northern Ireland have taken the lead! A long throw-in from Magennis is once again not dealt with by Azerbaijan. It finds Jonny Evans, who nods the ball over to Lafferty, and the striker immediately beats Agayev with a thumping half-volley that leaves the goalkeeper with no chance.
25' Chance for Magennis! Once again, a long ball forward causes problems for the Azerbaijan back line. Laffery rises high and beats his marker in the air before nodding it down into the path of Magennis, who sprints into the penalty area before forcing Agayev into making a smart save with a fierce strike.
23' A lovely lofted pass sails over to the right-hand side of the Azerbaijan box, where it finds Magennis. The striker meets the ball well before firing a low, first-time pass across the face of goal and into the path of Lafferty, but the ball deflects off both Huseynov and Medvedev and, finally, away from danger.
21' McLaughlin cuts inside from the right wing and tries to pick out Corry Evans, who had made a good run into the Azerbaijan penalty area, but his pass is deflected out for a corner. Brunt steps up and swings a dangerous cross into the middle of the box, but McAuley is penalised for grabbing Ismayilov as soon as he makes contact with the ball.
19' The game gets underway and Lafferty immediately tries to test Mehmedev by putting the defender under plenty of pressure deep down the left flank, but the centre-back is just about able to keep the striker at bay before Mirzabayov clears the ball up towards the halfway line.
18' After a couple of minutes on the floor receiving medical treatment, Brunt is finally able to get back to his feet and receives a round of applause from the Northern Ireland fans as he does so. Both he and Medvedev look to have recovered and are set to make their way back on to the pitch shortly.
16' Brunt and Medvedev clashed heads nastily as they battled in the air for the ball, leaving both in a heap on the floor and in serious discomfort. Mehmedev is bleeding heavily but seems to have come off the better of the two, as Brunt looks to be really struggling.
15' And now Brunt goes close! A long, bouncing throw-in from Magennis causes all sorts of problems for the Azerbaijan defenders before falling to Brunt in front of goal, but he's unable to beat Agayev with a close-range headed effort that flies straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.
14' What a chance for Ferguson! McLaughlin beats Qurbanov with ease deep down the right flank before cutting inside and swinging a beautiful cross over to the far post. It flies over the heads of two Northern Ireland players before falling nicely for Ferguson, but he can only hit the side-netting with his half-volleyed shot.
12' Mahmudov tries to hold up the ball over on the left wing but is fouled by Norwood, resulting in a free-kick for Azerbaijan. They decide to take it quickly and send it short before patiently working their towards the Northern Ireland penalty area, but a misplaced pass can only find Brunt and the West Bromwich Albion man is easily able to clear the danger.
10' A determined Northern Ireland attacking move comes to an end and Azerbaijan immediately hit the hosts on a quick counter. Qurbanov sprints deep into the home side's half of the pitch before sending a deflected pass into the path of Seydayev, but McGovern is there to pounce on the ball before the striker can get a shot away.
8' Magennis flies down the right flank on a brilliant run before cutting inside and beating three Azerbaijan players. He then sets up Davis, who cuts on to his right foot and chips a pass over to Lafferty, but the striker is unable to get a shot away and the visitors just about manage to deal with the danger.
6' A hefty challenge by Mahmudov sends Magennis crashing to the ground and results in a free-kick for Northern Ireland in an advantageous position. It's flung over to Lafferty, who then sends a lovely volleyed pass towards Davis, but there's slightly too much power behind the ball and Davis is unable to keep it in play, despite his bestt eforts.
4' Lafferty holds up the ball well midway inside the Azerbaijan half of the pitch before spinning and charging down the left wing. He does well to beat two players before taking on Medvedev, but the defender stands tall and denies the striker a chance to find a way into the visitors' box with a strong tackle.
2' Azerbaijan push forward on an early attacking move down the left flank before a looping cross from Qurbanov is headed out of play by Brunt at the far post. The resulting corner is thumped into the heart of the penalty area and finds Ismayilov, but the forward is unable to hit the target with his volleyed effort.
1' And we're off! Azerbaijan get us underway, attacking from right to left.
The two sides are making their way out onto the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan boss Robert Prosinecki has made two alterations to the team that featured against the Czech Republic in their last outing, with Namik Alasgarov and Dima Nazarov making way for Emin Mahmudov and Afran Ismayilov.
Michael O’Neill has decided to make three changes to the Northern Ireland side that started the defeat against Germany, with Conor McLaughlin, Chris Brunt and Kyle Lafferty coming into the starting line-uo to replace Lee Hodson, Aaron Hughes and Jamie Ward, respectively.
Azerbaijan substitutes: Pasayev, Abdullayev, Israfilov, Alasgarov, Yilmaz, Nazirov, Nazarov, Mammadov, Abisov, Quliyev, Ramazanov, Salahat Agayev.
Azerbaijan XI (4-3-3): Kamran Agayev; Mirzabayov, Medvedev, Huseynov, Dasdemirov; Mahmudov, Qarayev, Amirquliyev; Ismayilov, Seydayev, Qurbanov.
Northern Ireland substitutes: Hodson, McGinn, Grigg, Mannus, Boyce, McGivern, McNair, Hughes, Paton, Lund, Flanagan, Carson.
Northern Ireland XI (4-4-2): McGovern; McLaughlin, McAuley, Jonny Evans, Brunt; Corry Evans, Norwood, Davis, Ferguson; Lafferty, Magennis.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up this evening…
This is the third time that Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan have been placed in the same World Cup qualifying group, and both have finished above the other on one occasion each. The last meeting between the two sides in Baku in October 2013 ended in a 2-0 win for the hosts, but Northern Ireland have never lost against Azerbaijan on home soil, which bodes well for tonight’s contest.
It’s not going to be easy, however, as Azerbaijan are yet to lose a qualifying game, with two of their opening three clashes - against San Marino and Norway - ended in victories. Both were narrow and they were held to a goalless draw by the Czech Republic last month, but they have nonetheless been consistent thus far and look determined to continue their unbeaten run.
Germany, the clear favourites to top the group come next October, were always going to be tough for Northern Ireland, but the latter now have the chance to take on a rival in the battle for second place. Just three points separate them, and, thanks to the two sides enjoying the same goal difference, a win tonight for the hosts will move them above Azerbaijan.
Northern Ireland were riding high after their success at this summer’s European Championship, and they seem to have brought that good form into the qualifying stages for the next World Cup. A well-earned point against the Czech Republic was followed by an easy win against San Marino, and despite losing against Germany last time out, they currently sit in a respectable third place in Group C.
Good evening and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan at Windsor Park.
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