FK Shamkir beat FK Neftchi 3-1 as football returned to Azerbaijan on Saturday after a break of around 400 days.
It was hoped that 14 teams would contest the Azeri top flight, but 13 are in the current league after FK Khazar Universiteti withdrew at the decision of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) to promote FK Adliyye Baku. Yet the top flight could consist of 14 clubs again soon, as AFFA are reportedly preparing to promote FK Bakili Baku.
Business as usual
On the field it was business as usual for Shamkir as they accounted for Neftchi. Ukrainian Viktor Kulikov opened the scoring in the 40th minute and Azeri international Khalig Mardanov doubled his side's lead three minutes after the interval. Kulikov made it 3-0 shortly after the hour before Elchin Rakhmanov struck a consolation for the visitors.
Debutants Adliyye were denied a point against OMIK Baku as Dzhamal Mamedov scored late on, while another newly promoted side, FK Khazar Sumgayit, beat FK Dinamo Bakili thanks to goals from Ruslan Poladov and Shakhmar Abdullayev in the final three minutes of the game. FK Shafa also needed a late goal to defeat FK Kapaz, substitute Senan Gurbanov the man on target.
Karabakh hit form
Elsewhere, PFK Turan surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to FK Umid Baku and FK Karabakh-Azersun thrashed FK Shahdag Gusar 5-0. FK Lokomotiv Imishli were the team to miss out because of Khazar's withdrawal.