Kazakhstan beats Azerbaijan 2-1 in Euro qualifer

A second-half double from Sergei Gridin handed Kazakhstan a 2-1

win over Azerbaijan in their Euro 2012 qualifying match on

Friday.

Bottom-placed Kazakhstan earned its first points in Group A,

drawing level with Azerbaijan on three points. Kazakhstan has

played six games, Azerbaijan five. Germany leads the group on 15

points.

Gridin opened the scoring in the 57th, completing a swift

Kazakhstan break by connecting with a low cross from the left and

wrongfooting the goalkeeper.

The visitors equalized on a rare counterattack in the 63rd, with

substitute Vugar Nadyrov collecting the ball inside the area,

sidestepping the goalkeeper and firing low into the corner barely

two minutes after coming on.

But Gridin, a threat throughout, stabbed in the winner five

minutes later after a neat one-two.

Kazakhstan attacked in the opening half-hour, with defender

Samat Smakov powering a free kick over the bar and Gridin sending a

free header wide.

But the hosts’ defensive frailties were soon exposed, as

Azerbaijan striker Rauf Aliyev prodded the ball past the post after

defenders flapped at a high ball.

In the second half, Kazakhstan, and Gridin in particular,

stepped up a gear. He followed up his opener with two fierce

efforts from outside the box that both whistled past the post.

As Kazakhstan pressed, Azerbaijan was restricted to the odd

foray forward. Nadyrov took advantage of one such occasion scoring

an equalizer aided by poor defensive marking.

The visitors forced themselves back into the game in the latter

stages, but were ultimately denied a second equalizer by poor

finishing. Azerbaijan substitute Murad Huseynov had a shot cleared

off the line in the 80th minute.

Lineups:

Kazakhstan: Roman Nesterenko, Yuri Logvinenko (Mikhail Rozhkov,

65), Mukhtar Mukhtarov, Kairat Nurdauletov, Kazbek Geteriyev, Samat

Smakov, Heinrich Schmidtgal, Marat Khairullin (Aleksandr Kirov,

82), Ulan Konysbayev, Sergei Gridin, Sergei Ostapenko (Sergei

Khizhnichenko, 79).

Azerbaijan: Kamran Agayev, Rail Melikov, Rashad A. Sadygov,

Vagif Javadov, Rauf Aliyev (Murad Huseynov, 79), Rashad F. Sadygov,

Ruslan Abushev, Javid Huseynov (Vugar Nadyrov, 61), Maksim

Medvedev, Vladimir Levin, Afran Ismayilov.