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Portugal press on with Azerbaijan win

Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal
Second-half goals from Rafa Silva and Ivan Cavaleiro made it three wins in three Group 8 fixtures for Rui Jorge's squad.

Portugal's Ricardo (left) gets away from Tarlan Guliyev of Azerbaijan
Portugal's Ricardo (left) gets away from Tarlan Guliyev of Azerbaijan ©Leyla Sattarova

Portugal continued to make serene progress through UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying, second-half goals from Rafa Silva and Ivan Cavaleiro earning a third win from as many Group 8 fixtures in Azerbaijan.

Having already defeated Norway 5-1 and, on Friday, Israel 3-0 at home, Rui Jorge's team were quick to assume control in Baku. Their first-half pressure failed to yield reward but Silva broke the deadlock early in the second period, Cavaleiro adding his second goal of the qualifying campaign shortly past the hour.

The opening goalscorer had had the best chance of the first 45 minutes, failing to beat Andriy Popovich when one-on-one with the home goalkeeper, but there was to be no such reprieve for Azerbaijan seven minutes after half-time. Although Popovich kept out Ricardo's initial effort, Silva reacted before any of the defenders to follow up and open the scoring.

With Azerbaijan forced to take more risks, the points were wrapped up 12 minutes later with a swift Portuguese counterattack. Again Popovich was left exposed and this time the goalkeeper was beaten, Cavaleiro keeping his head to make it two. Portugal therefore have nine points ahead of next month's trip to Israel.

"We tried to play on the counterattack, and in the first half that brought us some success," said Azerbaijan captain Mirhuseyin Seyidov, whose team next visit the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 15 November. "Portugal were very strong opponents but we played some decent football. We have more games and we'll be able to pick up points from them."