Neftçi PFK have ended their six-year wait to be crowned Azerbaijani champions after a 3-1 victory at Olimpik-Şüvälan PFK lifted them ten points clear of nearest pursuers Xäzär Länkäran FK with three games left to play.
Draws for Xäzär Länkäran and third-placed Qarabağ FK opened the door for Neftçi and Arif Asadov's men did not miss their chance, racing into a two-goal lead against Olimpik in the opening 17 minutes. Javid Huseynov opened the scoring after racing through the home side's lines and Ritus Krjauklis then put through his own net trying to clear a low cross from Alessandro.
With both coaches forced to make a pair of substitutions due to injuries before the break, Neftçi contented themselves with protecting their lead and Olimpik struggled to threaten. The game still had goals in it, though, with Rodriguinho making it 3-0 with a back heel and Lithuanian forward Gvidas Juska plundering a consolation effort for his tenth strike this term.
The final whistle was then greeted by euphoria among the Neftçi fans who, having seen the club clinch their first title since 2004/05 and sixth overall, can now look forward to the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League next season. "We fought with everything we had today," said coach Asadov, who took over in March despite no previous experience in the Azerbaijani top flight. "Neftçi's main strength is the team, the squad. Now we'll try to represent Azerbaijan well in the UEFA Champions League."
"The first day I came to Neftçi, I realised I'd come to an ambitious club," added midfielder Slavco Georgievski. "I wanted to win the title in my first year here and I'm incredibly happy that my dream has come true. I have a feeling I've been playing for this team since the start of my career."
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