Azerbaijan's Edu strikes late to stun Slovenia
Friday, January 31, 2014
Slovenia 6-7 Azerbaijan
Slovenia seemed to be sailing through at 5-2, but Azerbaijan fought back and flying goalkeeper Edu clinched victory in the final minute.
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Azerbaijan flying goalkeeper Edu struck with less than 30 seconds to go in an incredible match which Slovenia had seemingly won.
Having upset Italy 3-2 on Wednesday, matters were in Slovenia's hands, and at 5-2 up thanks to Gašper Vrhovec's hat-trick they appeared set to seal top spot in Group C and a last-eight berth. However, Azerbaijan levelled at 5-5 and 6-6 before Edu's last-minute intervention left the section wide open ahead of his team's Sunday decider with Italy.
Azerbaijan had to wait four days to be the last of the 12 teams to start, and within 24 seconds Amadeu found the net on his competitive international debut with a vicious effort. Vrhovec equalised for Slovenia less than a minute later, though, pouncing on a rebound from Igor Osredkar's blocked shot.
Towards the end of the half, Slovenia took control of proceedings, with Vrhovec threatening more than once. The pressure told when Kristjan Čujec turned in Rok Mordej's near-post corner. And there was still time before the break for Čujec to cross for Vrhovec to make it 3-1.
Slovenia started the second half the stronger, but they were given a warning when goalkeeper Damir Puškar had to advance to foil Vitaliy Borisov. Indeed, on 25 minutes, Rafael showed neat footwork before shooting in from the edge of the box. Nevertheless, Uroš Kroflič immediately restored the two-goal cushion after Alen Fetič's corner.
Vrhovec completed his hat-trick following fine work from Čujec, but moments later Borisov restored hope for Azerbaijan, now playing with Edu as flying goalkeeper. With eight minutes left, Augusto struck from a seemingly impossible angle to further reduce arrears.
From his own half, Osredkar was denied by the post, and Slovenia's lead disappeared when Amadeu played a corner long back to Felipe, who took a step forward and smashed the ball in. But there were more twists to come as Puškar made a save and his long throw found Fetič in space to restore Slovenia's lead, before Felipe levelled again from as tight an angle as Augusto. Amazingly that was not it, Felipe's ball towards goal given a final touch by Edu as the seconds ticked down.