Azerbaijan put in a great effort against European giants Germany, but still had to watch as their visitors left with all the points in their World Cup Group 4 qualifier.
The game kicked off inside a noisy and packed Tofik Bahkramov stadium and Germany had a chance to test the stand-in Azerbaijan goalkeeper early on after an industrial foul on Mario Gomez by Sasha Yunisoglu. Piotr Trochowski however skied his effort.
The home crowd were soon on their feet when Shukurov got down the right well and produced a low ball into the area. Nobody however had read his intentions and it came to nothing. It was a very bright start from the home side with Javadov being sent through by a long-ball on seven minutes, but he hesitated when faced with Robert Enke.
The positive start from the hosts was however made to count for nothing on 12 minutes with the opening goal falling to Germany. Some slick passing moved the Germans through the Azeri defence and the ball fell to Bastian Schweinsteiger on the edge of the box. The Bayern midfielder shifted the ball onto his left foot, before curling a shot just under the bar.
The goal didn’t seem to calm the Germans that much and Berti Vogts' Azerbaijan side continued to equip themselves well and cause some headaches of their own. As the first-half entered the last fifteen minutes Germany had a couple of opportunities to deliver dangerous free-kicks into the penalty area, but neither of them could get a decent enough German head or boot onto them.
Azerbaijan exposed the German back line again on 40 minutes when Allagverdiyev burst past a couple of defenders before being denied by the out-rushing Robert Enke.
Germany on the other hand were given a glorious chance to double their lead just before the interval, but Miroslav Klose headed down and over when you would have bet your house on him scoring.
Neither side made any changes at half-time, and it was Germany who got the first effort in on goal in the second period. Five minutes in and captain Michael Ballack rifled in a shot, which was spilt by Veliyev, but not picked up by a German following in.
Nine minutes into the second 45 minutes and Germany duly doubled their lead. Schweinsteiger battled for the ball well on the edge of the area and it fortunately ricocheted to Mario Gomez. He turned brilliantly and curled a shot against the crossbar, but the ever-alert Miroslav Klose was on hand to nod in the rebound and make it 2-0.
Not to be daunted, the side that had not scored a single goal in qualifying thus far kept up their efforts and showed a few glimpses of their potential to hit the back of the net. Vugar Nadirov had two chances in quick succession, but one was saved by Enke and one was blocked by a defender.
Miroslav Klose was substituted in the 75th minute with Cacau coming on, but just before the switch the Bayern Munich striker had a fantastic opportunity to score a third goal for Germany. However, just as in the first-half he wasted an easy headed chance.
Germany eased to the three points in the end, but Azerbaijan can be very proud of the way they played and consider themselves unfortunate not to have scored their first qualifying goal.
Mathew Burt, Goal.com