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World Cup Qualifying - UEFA
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WC Qualification Europe
March 26, 2013
• Tofiq Bəhramov adına Respublika stadionu, Bakı (Baku)
Referee: A. Marriner
• Attendance: 30000
Bruno Alves 63'
Hugo Almeida 79'
That's all folks, see you next time.
Portugal pick up a much needed three points to aid their World Cup push. They were clearly the superior side throughout the game, and eventually scored twice in the second half to get the win that their play deserved. Things are looking better now for Paulo Bento and his men.
90' + 4'
FULL TIME: Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal.
90' + 3'
What a miss...Pereira is played in by Varela completely unmarked inside the six yard area. He's clearly onside, and takes time to measure his shot, but drills it wide of the far post. Embarrassing, guess that's why he's a defender.
90' + 2'
Portugal comfortably playing out the remaining minutes, stroking the ball around the centre of the park.
90' + 1'
Four minutes of stoppage time have been signaled.
Ishmailov is picked out free on the left, the flag stays down, but he dwells on the ball for far, far too long. His indecisiveness costs him, as Pepe steps in to make an easy tackle.
Narrow offside on Almeida, after Varela pounced on a loose ball and tried to square to the striker. Replays suggest that he was at least a yard onside.
Coentrao nearly picks out Almeida again yards from goal, but his centre is just too far ahead of the big striker.
A lovely touch from Moutinho frees Coentrao on the run towards goal, but with option either side of him, he instead runs the ball right into Fardjad-Azad.
Postiga will make way for Custodio, who steps in to give the midfield a pair of fresh legs. Not they they really needed it, Moutinho and Co. have completely ran the show from the centre of the park.
Assist Fabio Coentrao
Goal Hugo Almeida
GAME-SET-MATCH! Varela lobs a ball over the top to pick out Coentrao on the left, and the full back clips a measured cross towards Almeida inside the six-yard area, who stoops to nod home the clincher! No doubt where the points are headed now!
Sadygov bailed out by a free kick after dallying too long on the ball in his own half, and having it taken from him by Varela.
The crowd wake from their slumber briefly to cheer a foray by Azerbaijan into the opposition half. It is absolutely no threat to Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal, but it makes a nice change from parking the bus.
Danny trudges off for Silvestre Valera, who makes his 18th appearance for the senior national side.
Rebecca Knight weighs in on Twitter: "Bruno Alves. The goal machine of Portugal! #whoneedscr7whenyouvegotbruno." Get your comments in @keeghann!
Unsurprisingly, Alves' goal has seen the atmosphere on and off the pitch deflate like a flat tire. The visitors have the goal they need and are in no rush to over-commit themselves, while the hosts simply do not look anywhere near a breakthrough at the other end of the pitch - an area which they've hardly been in anyway.
Peireira and Moutinho combine beautifully just outside the penalty area. The Porto midfielder goes for the one-two with Postiga, but not for the first time, the striker's touch and reaction let him down, and the attack is thwarted.
Incidentally, that is Bruno Alves' third goal in the qualifying campaign. By comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo only has one.
Assist Joao Moutinho
Goal Bruno Alves
BRUNO ALVES MAKES THE BREAKTHROUGH! Moutinho swings a corner in, and Alves, just as he did against Israel, thumps home a header, despite Agayev getting a hand to the shot! What an important goal for Portugal!
Will Portugal get the goal they need to snatch the points? Can Azerbaijan hold on? I want to hear from you. Get in touch on Twitter @keeghann.
You get the feeling that the match is there for the taking for Paulo Bento and his troops. Azerbaijan have no interest in leaving their own half and have not seemed to have made any tactical adjustments since Aliyev's dismissal - they're effectively playing without a forward.
On comes Hugo Almedia to give Postiga some assistance up front. Meireles makes way.
Meireles connects with a loose ball from the corner of the box with an almighty thud, but it rolls well wide in the end.
It's surely park the buss time for Azerbaijan as they fight to hold on to this scoreline with a man disadvantage.
Yellow/Red Rauf Aliyev
ALIYEV IS OFF! A second yellow in quick succession for the home side's lone forward, who is penalized for liberal use of his arm when jumping for a high ball with Meireles!
Joao Perreira tricks his way into the area then goes tumbling theatrically under minimal contact. The referee doesn't even give that a second glance as play continues.
Portugal are back to where they were in the first half - controlling the game and forcing Azerbaijan to defend in numbers to counter their threat from the flanks.
Yellow Card Rauf Aliyev
Yellow Card Vugar Nadirov
Aliyev is shown a yellow card for a scrappy challenge in midfield. Nadirov is also booked quickly after for time wasting.
Agayev is a little confused by an in-swinging corner from Moutinho, and pushes the ball away when a catch looked like the easier option.
Yellow Card M. Şükürov
Azerbaijan will be encouraged by their start to the second half. They've kept the ball well and are playing in opposition territory for a sustained stretch.
Here we go again!
Portugal have forced Azerbaijan to do a lot of defending, but so far, the hosts, through some excellent play at the back and a few strokes of luck, have held firm. We enter the break scoreless, but judging by the tone of the first half, surely that scoreline cannot hold for long? Join us for the second half in just a bit.
45' + 3'
POSTIGA DENIED AGAIN! Vieirinha's cross towards the top of the box is met by an ungainly half-volley from Meireles that trickles towards goal. But in a flash, Postiga pops up to attack the ball from close range, but Agayev saves from point blank range with his leg! And that's it for the first half!
45' + 1'
We're into the first of two minutes of added time. Aliyev and Bruno Alves involved in an off-the-ball scuffle, which referee Andre Marriner quickly snuffs out.
Mammadov with a fantastic chance to cross, with acres of space, from the left flank. But bizarrely, he elects to play it safe despite having bodies in the box, and that gives Portugal a chance to get numbers back to cover. His coach is absolutely furious that the ball did not get into the box, Mammadov is going to have some explaining to do at half-time.
A disjointed ending to the first half, both sides struggling to advance out of the midfield.
Vieirinha spots Meireles making a bursting run into the area, but his high ball into the area sails over the midfielder's head and into the arms of Agayev.
PORTUGAL HIT THE POST! A terrific free-kick from Bruno Alves has Agayev beaten all ends up, but the post comes to the keeper's rescue. So, so unlucky.
Yellow Card R.F. Sadıqov
Moutinho with an incisive pass through the heart of midfield to pick out Danny on the run. He stumbles under a challenge from Sadygov, credibly tries to keep his footing, but eventually loses his balance. Freekick in a good position for the Portuguese, and a yellow card for the Azerbaijan captain.
A lovely burst of acceleration from Danny on the left takes him past two defenders, and had Postiga not reacted too slowly to an attempted one-two, the Zenit man may have well had a clean run on goal.
That could have been a lot worse for Portugal, as Shukurov's corner takes a couple of deflections, and spills from the hands of Patricio, who recovers just in time to reclaim the ball.
Yellow Card Pepe
Pepe takes out Aliyev in midfield with a typically shady challenge that gets the striker's foot instead of the ball. The Madrid defender looks shell-shocked at the clear yellow card that follows.
OOOOH....It's Veloso who elects to bend in goalwards with his left foot, but it flashes just the wrong side of the post! Agayev was scrambling to get across! Close call from an excellent attempt!
Free-kick for Portugal in a dangerous area about 25 yards from goal. Moutinho and Veloso are both eying this...
POSTIGA DENIED! Amirom threads a nifty pass through to Vieirinha on the right, who squares across the six-yard area for Postiga. The Zaragoza man was primed to turn home the game's opening goal, but an absolutely superb challenge from the skipper Sadygov takes the ball over the bar! A captain's tackle!
Any thoughts or comments on the game? Reach me on Twitter @keeghann.
Ramaldanov does exceptionally well to intercept a dangerous Vieirinha cross from the right, with Postiga lurking for the tap-in right behind him. Great defending.
Moutinho trying to find space at the edge of the D to sneak in a shot, but there are simply too many white shirts surrounding him, and he loses the ball.
A solid header from Postiga, who connected with Moutinho's delivery to force Agayev into a diving, but comfortable, catch.
And all of a sudden, Azerbaijan are on the attack, as Mammadov swings in a looping cross from the left that comes close to finding the head of Aliyev, but Pepe heads clear.
A decent spell of pressure this from the visitors, who force a few corners in succession. The final ball is sorely lacking though.
Postiga stings the palms of Agayev with a drive from the edge of the box. In all fairness it was not too far from the keeper, but he still needed to make the save - Though he was lucky that Danny slicked the rebound wide.
Danny goes on a clumsy run into the box and goes tumbling after a series of challenges from the defence. Half hearted appeals for a penalty from the visitors, but the Zenit man never had his footing to begin with.
Azerbaijan have not seen much of the ball, but certainly have a fair bit of pace in their frontline to pose a threat on the counter, which has been demonstrated by Ismayliov's earlier chance.
Amorim makes a clever run into space, but Moutinho, who is on the ball, declines the option of threading him in on goal in favor of a shot from distance that never comes close.
The home fans are certainly in raucous spirits.The Azerbaijan faithful, more than most, wear their hearts on their sleeve. If the team is playing well, there's no one better to have roaring you on. But they're also not afraid to let their team know when they need to step it up, which, I'm afraid, happens more often than not.
Vieirinha with a chance to pick out Postiga inside the area, but his cross is simply too close to Agayev in the hosts' goal, who makes a routine catch.
PORTUGAL BREATH A SIGH OF RELIEF! A giveaway high up the pitch sparks an instant Azerbaijan break. Aliyev feeds Ismayilov, who has the freedom of the left flank to advance. He drags a shot towards the far post that Bruno Alves does well to nip off the toes of Nadirov! Where was the left back Coentrao on that play?
A few slips and slides from the Azerbaijan midfield in the early goings as Portugal tentatively hold possession in the opposition half. Not a composed start.
Here we go!
Ronaldo has been spotted in the stands as the teams make their way onto the pitch. Kickoff is minutes away...
That untimely result with Israel, by the way, has left Portugal with no margin for error in the remainder of their group matches. With Russia holding a four point advantage at the top of the standings after four wins out of four, it seems like a straight shootout between Portugal and Israel, both locked on 8 points, for second place in the group and a playoff berth.
Cristiano Ronaldo is out for the visitors. The Real Madrid star picked up his fifth yellow card of the qualifying campaign during his side's 3-3 draw with Israel, earning him a one-match suspension, served today. Usually, Portugal count on Nani to pick up the slack during instances like this, but the Man United winger is also missing with a hamstring injury. Wolfsburg's Vieirinha and Zenit's Danny will be the ones tasked with providing the flair and penetration behind lone forward Helder Postiga.
Azerbaijan: Agayev, Ramaldanov, Shukurov, Mammadov, Aliyev, Sadygov, Abışov, Hüseynov,Nadirov, Medvedev, Ismayilov.
Portugal: Patrício, João Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Coentrão, Meireles, Veloso, Moutinho, Vieirinha, Postiga, Danny.
First, our teams...
Greetings one and all, and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of the World Cup Qualifier between Azerbaijan and Portugal at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku! I'm Keeghann Sinanan, keeping you company for the next two hours or so.
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