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Azerbaijan dent Israel's play-off hopes

Azerbaijan 3-0 Israel
Rahman Hajiyev scored a pair in Baku as the hosts inflicted a heavy blow on the visitors' play-off chances.

Dor Mikha hit the post for Israel
Dor Mikha hit the post for Israel ©AFP/Getty Images

Israel's hopes of securing a UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off spot suffered a significant blow as they fell to a Group 8 defeat by Azerbaijan in Baku.

With Portugal already confirmed winners of the section, Michael Nees's visitors were hoping to get a win which would help them clinch one of four best runners-up places available, but Agabala Ramazanov's opener for the hosts put Israel on the back foot. Rahman Hajiyev scored his first on 31 minutes to double the lead, before completing the scoring three minutes from time to take Azerbaijan off the foot of the group and leave Israel's prospects on the brink.

Having beaten the same opponents 7-2 on home soil just under a year ago, the away team started confidently and almost went ahead when Dor Mikha shot against the post from the edge of the area with 19 minutes on the clock. However, three minutes later it was Bernhard Lippert's side who were celebrating after Ramazanov spotted Barak Levi off his line and lobbed the Israel goalkeeper from 30 metres.

Hajiyev doubled the advantage with an outstanding free-kick soon after the half-hour and that took the wind out of the Israeli sails. Abdulla Abatsiyev somehow failed to supply a third from two metres with 28 minutes remaining, though Hajiyev made no mistake in the closing stages, firing in Ilter Tashkin's cross from the left.