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Azerbaijan record overdue win against Albania

Azerbaijan 3-2 Albania
Bernhard Lippert's side nearly nearly squandered a three-goal lead but clung on to record their first Group 10 win in seven attempts.

Bakhtiyar Soltanov (No14) celebrates after scoring Azerbaijan's opener
Bakhtiyar Soltanov (No14) celebrates after scoring Azerbaijan's opener ©Viktoriya Melnik

Azerbaijan remain bottom of Group 10 of UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying despite beating Albania 3-2 to secure their first victory.

Bernhard Lippert's side started the day with only a solitary point from their first six fixtures – from a 2-2 draw in Scotland in March – but can now climb above off the foot of the table and above Albania with a draw against section leaders Belarus on Tuesday. Albania have completed their fixtures with four points to their name.

Their chances of adding to that tally looked to be over inside 43 minutes as the hosts opened up a commanding three-goal lead. Bakhtiyar Soltanov opened the scoring with a header from Elvin Mammadov's cross on 17 minutes and Mirhuseyn Seyidov doubled Azerbaijan's lead with a 37th-minute free-kick. Ruslan Gurbanov profited from good work by captain Javid Huseynov to add a third two minutes before half-time.

Albania, though, refused to give in and pulled one back on the stroke of the interval when Sokol Cikalleshi scored direct from a set piece.  Bekim Bala reduced the deficit to just one with three minutes remaining but the hosts hung on for a long-awaited win.