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.
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.