Azerbaijan vs. Portugal, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Final score 0-2, visitors stumble to important win

Laurence Griffiths

Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal struggled on Tuesday against Azerbaijan. Thankfully for them, the hosts picked up a red card, gifting them a path to victory.

Portugal still have a lot of work to do if they want to avoid a World Cup qualifying playoff, but they stopped the bleeding a bit, defeating Azerbaijan to keep pace with Russia in their group. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended for yellow card accumulation, their attack was lacking bite, but a red card to Azerbaijan opened things up in the second half and allowed them to cruise to a 2-0 victory.

Helder Postiga nearly had a brilliant chance to put his team ahead in the 28th minute, off a square ball from Pepe. Danny slipped Pepe down the flank with a great ball, but Rashad Sadygov cut out the ball before Postiga could finish. That was by far the best opportunity that Portugal had during a poor first half showing.

Azerbaijan's Rauf Aliyev picked up a second yellow card in the 55th minute, and that marked the beginning of the end of the hosts' chances of securing a result. Bruno Alves put Portugal ahead in the 63rd minute, heading in a corner from Joao Moutinho. In the 79th minute, substitute Hugo Almeida sealed the result for his side, poking in a cross from Fabio Coentrao.

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