Wales vs Azerbaijan
European Qualifiers Group E
7:45pm Friday 6th September
Cardiff City Stadium
Gareth Bale spared Wales a humiliating night in Euro 2020 qualifying .
Bale struck his goal for Wales six minutes from time, rising to head home after Joe Allen’s shot had been deflected into the Cardiff atmosphere.
Wales was gifted a first-half lead when Pavlo Pashayev scored a bizarre own goal, but Mahir Emreli penalized a sloppy home display.
Azerbaijan are ranked 109th in the world – a 85 areas below Wales – and their only aggressive away wins came in San Marino and the Faroe Islands.
Following a frustrating introduction, Bale fell as Wales sought a route but there was little reason for optimism until Pashayev intervention.
The Wales captain turned infield to strike a shot which hit on Dmitry Nazarov and spun into the air. Azerbaijan appeared to have little to worry about, however Salahat Agayev came hurrying out of his target and the ball broke Pasahayev’s mind and trickled into an unprotected web.
Azerbaijan had their moment of good luck when Emreli escaped on Chris Mepham, the Maltese referee showing off his side using a swinging arm.
Wales still struggled to get out of first gear once Azerbaijan acquired a sucker punch. Neil Taylor’s mistake permitted Ramil Sheydaev to release Emreli, who had the liberty of the Wales half to run into.
Wayne Hennessey didn’t hold the shot and the rebound was dispatched, although emreli’s effort was staged.
Wales poured forward in search of a winner, but time was running out before Bale – as he has done before – established their saviour.
Wales sponsor Belarus on Monday night, live on Sky Sports Premier League in 7.40pm; kick-off at 7.45pm. Azerbaijan’s next game at home to Croatia will also be live on Sky Sports Football from 4.55pm Monday; kick-off at 5pm.