By Erkin Ibragimov at the Ismet Gayibov stadium
A solitary goal by Emin Guliyev was enough for Azerbaijani side PFC Neftchi to seal a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie against PFC CSKA Moskva of Russia after a 1-0 win saw them advance on the away-goals rule against NK Široki Brijeg.
After the first leg finished 2-1, Kazbek Tuaev's team needed to win and took the early initiative with midfield players Mahmud Gurbanov and veteran Vidadi Rzayev dictating the play. Rzayev carved out a number of opportunities for the Neftchi strikers, while Gurban Gurbanov had an early effort well saved. Later in the half, Zaur Tagizade was also denied after his firm header was parried by the keeper, as Neftchi failed to take advantage of their domination.
The Bosnia-Herzegovnian title holders started the second half much stronger than they had finished the first. However, they were barely containing Neftchi, who were steadily increasing the tempo. Within minutes Gurban Gurbanov had gone close before Guliyev headed against the crossbar.
Sensing the tie was there for the taking, Tuaev brought on midfield players Elshan Gambarov and Rashad Sadygov to further increase the pressure on the visitors. Neftchi finally made the crucial breakthrough when Guliyev headed into the top corner in the 80th minute. It was a lead that Neftchi never looked like losing as they became only the second Azeri side to make it to the second qualifying round following FK Shamkir in 2000.
'Better late than never'
"We should have scored at least three more," Tuaev said. "But it's better late than never. We still have things to work on, but in general I am satisfied with the team's performance."