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Hristov header delights Bulgaria in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan 1-2 Bulgaria
Substitute Ventsislav Hristov headed the winner just three minutes from time just as it seemed Azerbaijan had secured a point.

Hristov header delights Bulgaria in Azerbaijan
Hristov header delights Bulgaria in Azerbaijan ©UEFA.com

Ventsislav Hristov's header three minutes from time wins Group H opener for Bulgaria
Ilian Micanski puts visitors ahead in Baku with an angled low shot
Micanski's Karlsruhe SC club-mate Dmitri Nazarov equalises from distance
Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agayev held out well before the late winner
Next matches: Italy v Azerbaijan, Bulgaria v Croatia (10 October)

Substitute Ventsislav Hristov headed an 87th-minute winner to give Bulgaria a deserved opening UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group H win in Azerbaijan.

The visitors struck first, Ilian Micanski latching on to a clever through ball and beating Kamran Agayev with a low strike. Otherwise it was a quiet first half with few openings at either end, though most of the pressure came from Bulgaria.

Georgi Iliev was close to a second for the visitors eight minutes after the break, his drive saved by Agayev. Azerbaijan then went straight up the other end and a long-range effort by Micanski's Karlsruhe SC club-mate Dmitri Nazarov deceived Bulgaria goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov and bounced in.

The lead was nearly restored just before the hour when Vladimir Gadzhev's cross fell to Andrej Galabinov, just on as a substitute, but Agayev blocked from point-blank range. Gadzhev headed wide as Bulgaria continued to press and with time running out the winner arrived, Hristov heading in fellow replacement Todor Nedelev's corner just four minutes after coming on.