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No breakthrough in Baku

Saturday, 9 October 2004

[1] Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland both secured their second FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 6 point following a tight draw in Baku.

Midfield men return

[2] Each side had held Wales in September to get off the mark, though Northern Ireland had already lost 3-0 to Poland and Azerbaijan were subsequently defeated by Austria. Tommy Doherty returned to the Northern Ireland midfield for the first time since April, while Azerbaijan had Kyamal Guliyev back after a six-month absence.

Baird off

[3] Just seven minutes in the visitors were forced into a change when defender Chris Baird was taken off with an ankle injury, Keith Gillespie being pressed into action. Soon after the home side went close as Ismayil Mamedov found Makhmud Gurbanov, but the shot was wide.

Long-range effort

[4] Rashad Sadygov's long-range goal had given Azerbaijan their point against Wales, and he nearly produced a repeat performance today, but his shot went over the bar. The tight nature of the game continued after the break, and on 61 minutes Stuart Elliott came close to connecting with a cross from the right.

Wednesday encounters

[5] Samir Aliyev's clever chip six minutes later landed on the roof of the net, while Jeff Whitley's shot was stopped by home goalkeeper Jahangir Hasanzade. James Quinn then just missed the target, but there was to be no breakthrough and Azerbaijan remain just ahead of the Northern Irish on goal difference, leaving Lawrie Sanchez's side bottom of the table. Both sides have home matches on Wednesday, Azerbaijan welcoming England for the first time while Austria travel to Belfast.

Samir Aliyev went close for Azerbaijan