Kazakhstan matchwinner Sergei Gridin dedicated his debut double against Azerbaijan to his country and their supporters as he reflected on an "unbelievable" night at the Astana Arena in defeating Azerbaijan 2-1.
FC Tobol Kostanay forward earned Kazakhstan their first points in Group A with two second-half goals – either side of a Vugar Nadyrov strike for Azerbaijan. The 24-year-old target man told UEFA.com: "You feel unbelievable after you score twice in your first match for the national team."
Gridin added that hard work was the key to the Kazakhstan's victory. "My task was to battle for the aerial balls and I tried that throughout the match," he said. "The team as a whole put in an enormous workload and deserved this victory. I dedicate my goals to Kazakhstan and all the fans that were with us today."
Kazakhstan had suffered five straight defeats in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying prior to Friday night's match and coach Miroslav Beranek said: "We prepared hard for this game and knew that only a victory would allow us to continue pursuing the goals we've set."
On new boy Gridin, Beranek said the player had "said everything about himself with his goals" while there was also praise for goalkeeper Roman Nesterenko who made his first appearance in the qualification campaign. "The main question before the game was the goalkeeping position. Our coaching team weren't sure who to select, but I had the last word and chose Roman Nesterenko who didn't let me down."
The result lifted Kazakhstan level on three points with Azerbaijan, though Berti Vogts's men have played one game less. Azerbaijan forward Vagif Javadov congratulated Kazakhstan and added: "They succeeded more in implementing their game plan than we did. We'll try to do it in the return fixture in Baku [in September]."
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