Ten-man Kazakhstan had a heavily-deflected equaliser to thank as they earned a 1-1 UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying draw at home to Group A rivals Azerbaijan.
Trailing to Vugar Nadyrov's first-half goal following a neat link-up with Dzeykhun Sultanov, the home team required a stroke of luck on 53 minutes to pull level. Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev's left-wing cross was turned in by a combination of Kazakhstan midfielder Ruslan Baltiev and Azerbaijan defender Samir Abbasov. This after Arno Pijpers' side had lost defender Maksim Zhalmagambetov to a 45th-minute red card.
Kazakhstan should have taken the lead after 20 minutes when Dmitriy Byakov's centre from the right found Zhumaskaliyev in space inside the area, but he miscued his effort wide of Jahangir Hasanzade's goal. Soon after, however, the lively Nadyrov headed Sultanov's corner on to the Kazakhstan crossbar, and the same two players combined to open the scoring for the visitors in the 30th minute. Nadyrov collected Sultanov's ball in the box before steering a shot across David Loria and into the right-hand corner from a tight angle. To compound matters for the hosts, Zhalmagambetov was sent off for a clash in the Azerbaijan area.
On the back foot
The ten men restored parity eight minutes after the interval, though, with Zhumaskaliyev's delivery finding its way past Hasanzade via both Baltiev and Abbasov. Zhumaskaliyev had the ball in the net again on 66 minutes yet his attempt was ruled out for offside. Branimir Subašić, Emin Imamaliev and Alim Gurbanov might have secured the points for Azerbaijan late on but honours would remain even. Kazakhstan travel to Finland for their next qualifier on 22 August while Azerbaijan are not in competitive action until they entertain Armenia on 8 September.