Shane Duffy’s late equaliser saw Ireland clinch a point at home to Azerbaijan as their incredibly slim World Cup hopes took another hit. Ireland v Azerbaijan finished as another disappointing performance for Stephen Kenny and co.
Duffy headed home in the 87th minute to deny Azerbaijan a famous win, but the result matters little as Stephen Kenny’s side could not find the latest of late winners.
Republic of Ireland 1-1 Azerbaijan
Ireland get an equaliser with four minutes to go as Shane Duffy heads home from close range.
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Backed by a fervent home crowd, the Boys in Green started the game well and caused Azerbaijan a number of early problems.
Ireland v Azerbaijan report
Matt Doherty was the first to go close, but his headed effort just went wide after an impressive ball into the box from holding midfielder Josh Cullen.
Adam Idah also started off well and he nearly created a goal for Aaron Connolly after some good play down the flank. Connolly’s shot was blocked by the timely presence of an Azerbaijani defender, however.
Seamus Coleman then marauded forward with an attack of his own, but he could only curl his effort over the bar.
Azerbaijan did grow into the game, but they were limited to few real chances. The best they could muster was a long range effort on goal that Gavin Bazunu easily collected.
Jayson Molumby went close shortly after, before Idah headed wide from a whipped ball into the box from his forward partner Connolly on the left.
Connolly then had another chance of his own, but his meek effort on goal was easily picked up by Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev.
And that inability to break down the Azerbaijanis cost them on the stroke of half-time as Emin Makhmudov found the top corner from long-range.
It was a cruel blow to Kenny’s side who enjoyed much of the play before that, but the lack of a press on Makhmudov cost the Boys in Green who coughed up too much space, and in turn, the goal.
That goal, and the introduction of Daryl Horgan stung Ireland back into life, but Molumby headed his effort over the bar after some good play.
Ireland continued to threaten in the early stages of the second-half, Idah heading wide from a Horgan cross into the box as Shane Duffy could turn home at the back post.
Coleman went close himself moments later, but his low strike on goal was blocked. Duffy went close with a header from a Callum Robinson, but he could only head over the bar.
A John Egan header was then saved by Mahammadaliyev after a Conor Hourihane delivery into the box as time began to run out for Ireland, and their slim World Cup hopes.
But Shane Duffy was on hand to level matters in the 87th minute as he headed home a Josh Cullen cross into the box.