By Erkin Ibragimov
Poland missed their chance to draw level with second-placed Germany as UEFA European Under-21 qualifying Group 6 rivals Azerbaijan struck their first goal in the group to deny their visitors victory.
Azerbiajan, bottom with only one point and no goals from six games in the pool before today, created the first chance on 14 minutes when a good move set up PFK Turan Tovuz midfielder Romal Guseynov, but his effort lacked precision. And Poland, who defeated Azerbaijan 3-0 at home in March, punished that miss six minutes later as David Kucharek put them ahead to boost their hopes of a play-off berth.
But in the 32nd minute FK Baku midfielder Ramazan Abbasov was his team's hero as he was put through one-on-one with the Poland goalkeeper, kept his nerve and equalised. Ruslan Amirjanov could have added another goal for the hosts soon after, but could not beat the Polish custodian.
Ten minutes into the second half, Kucharek broke through but home goalkeeper Ruslan Majidov, Azerbaijan's only foreign-based player, stopped his shot and his team held on to add to their point gained against England in October.
Home coach Vagif Sadygov, whose team go to unbeaten Germany on 2 September, said: "This game has shown that our football has a future. We tried to thank the spectators who came to support us with beautiful football and good result. I liked the Poland team and I won't be surprised to see their forward Pawel Brozek playing for a top European club soon." Brozek and co can still move up to second if they defeat Germany in the next group game on 16 August.