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Belgium fightback denies Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan 2-2 Belgium
The hosts gained their first point in qualifying Group 8 but could have had all three after establishing a two-goal lead inside 31 minutes.

Belgium (in red) battled back for a share of the spoils in Baku
Belgium (in red) battled back for a share of the spoils in Baku ©info@yenihaber.be

Jimmy de Jonghe equalised within five minutes of his introduction as Belgium recovered from two goals down against Azerbaijan, who nonetheless recorded their first point in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 8.

Belgium won the reverse fixture 4-1 last month but looked to be heading for defeat in Baku when Cavid Imamverdiyev and Cihan Özkara scored in the space of nine first-half minutes.

Imamverdiyev was in the right place to open the scoring midway through the first period, tucking away the rebound after Colin Coosemans had saved Mirhüseyin Seyidov's effort from the edge of the penalty area. Azerbaijan's initial dominance was underlined when Özkara doubled the lead after the half-hour mark with a shot across Coosemans from the left.

Nill De Pauw started the fightback before the break, punishing Gara Garayev for a mistake that allowed Guillaume Francois to set him up, a goal which prompted some sustained second-half pressure from Francky Dury's side.

Francois, Christian Benteke and Dedryck Boyata − whose effort was headed off the goal line by Badavi Guseynov − all threatened an equaliser after the break, and though Azerbaijan appeared to have regrouped, the unmarked De Jonghe broke home hearts 14 minutes from time.