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By Erkin Ibragimov at the Tofikh Bakhramov stadium
Azerbaijan champions PFC Neftchi pulled off one of the most impressive results in their history by holding Russian title-holders PFC CSKA Moskva to a goalless draw in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie.
CSKA, who were eliminated at this stage by FK Vardar last year, fielded Czech midfield player Jirí Jarosík and Croatian international striker Ivica Olic for the first time in Europe, but the champions of Azerbaijan more than held their own, and defended stoutly. Sergei Semak and Jarošík both went close in the opening minutes, but Rashad Sadigov also sent a shot just wide.
The visitors' goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved from Vidadi Rzayev on 26 minutes, and Neftchi again threatened when Mahmud Gurbanov put the ball wide. Recently returned CSKA coach Valeri Gazzaev introduced Latvian midfield player Juris Laizans eleven minutes from the end of the first half to add creativity, and he found Semak who headed just wide.
After the break Olic shot wide and Jarošík found Yuri Zhirkov, whose shot aimed at the top corner was superbly saved. Six minutes before full time Olic played the ball to Dmitri Kiritchenko, but a last-ditch clearance kept Neftchi level and the home team nearly snatched victory when Gurban Gurbanov missed the target from an acute angle. Neftchi will now look to pull off another surprise in Moscow next Wednesday in the return.
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