FT: Northern Ireland 1 Azerbaijan 1

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FULL-TIME: Northern Ireland's hopes of reaching Rio took a huge dent despite rescuing a point at the death against Azerbaijan. David Healy scored his first international goal in nearly four years from a 96th minute free-kick to level Rauf Aliyev's opener.

The substitute has rescued at least a point with a 96th minute free-kick from the edge of the box. He drills the ball past Salahat Agayev and Windsor Park is relieved.


Naziri hands Northern Ireland a free-kick dead centre just outside the area. It comes down to this!

Salahat Agayev lies on the ball and wastes even more time. Clever tactics from Berti Vogts' side.

YELLOW CARD: Goalkeeper Salahat Agayev is next to be booked for time wasting.

YELLOW CARDS: Both Huseynov and Healy are booked by referee Victor Shvetsov as both players squared up to each other.

YELLOW CARD: Daniel Lafferty is booked for words off the ball.

Salahat Agayev punches away Shane Ferguson's cross and we have SIX MINUTES of stoppage time.

Chris Brunt's delivery from the right isn't bad, but nobody takes a gamble to get into the six-yard box.

David Healy is next to have a pop at goal, but his near post strike is saved by Salahat Agayev.

Paddy McCourt shows neat feet to get away from his marker, but the visitors slam the ball clear.

Lafferty's attempted effort is blocked and it's all or nothing as they say with a few minutes remaning. A win is surely out of the question!

Chris Brunt doesn't cause any problems though because he fails to get any power in his daisy cutter.

Now Lafferty is clearly pushed and this is in a good position, about 25-yards out on the edge of the area.

Kyle Lafferty chests the ball down and fires his right-footer wide of the target.

Nadirov goes to ground and calls for a free-kick but nothing is doing and the crowd are getting more and more frustrated.

SUBSTITUTE: David Healy replaces Craig Cathcart as Michael O'Neill goes for broke here.

YELLOW CARD: Chris Baird is booked and he will miss the next World Cup qualifier against Russia. Another blow!

SUBSTITUTE: Javadov replaces Ozkara as Azerbaijan make their final change.

The rain is pouring down at Windsor Park as Aliyev slides into the defender and should be getting a red for that but referee Victor Shvetsov decides to keep his cards in this pocket this time.

Sadly, the ball into the box comes to nothing and now the hosts play some route one stuff.

Shane Ferguson wins his side a corner after some determined play down the left.

SUBSTITUTE: Naziri replaces an injured Ramaldanov as Azerbaijan looks to waste time. The midfielder comes off very slowly.

Azerbaijan have only won one of their last 26 World Cup qualifiers, so this would be some landmark.

AWFUL MISS!!! Chris Baird again! The Fulham man heads McCourt's inswinger wide of the target with Azerbaijan defenders playing him on.

Now Paddy McCourt drives a wonderful effort over the crossbar.

SUBSTITUTION: Chris Brunt replaces Niall McGinn with the clock ticking. An important change by Michael O'Neill!

Goalkeeper Salahat Agayev makes a clanger from Shane Ferguson's corner, but nobody is there to take advantage.

Northern Ireland have had 11 attempts on goal to Azerbaijan's 5, but the hosts have only had three shots on target.

YELLOW CARD: The goalscorer Aliyev is booked for simulation.

McCourt's sublime pass is intercepted by Medvedev.

SUBSTITUTE: Guseynov replaces Gokdemir for the visitors.

WHAT A MISS!!! Shane Ferguson works his magic down the left once again before his stunning delivery is somehow headed wide by Chris Baird. That was simply dreadful from the Fulham man.

CLOSE!!! At the other end Paddy McCourt fires his right-foot cracker inches wide of the mark.

AZERBAIJAN CHANCE!!! Ozkara is put clean through, but Roy Carroll comes out of his area to get to the ball first. What an important challenge!

YELLOW CARD: Kyle Lafferty is booked for a terrible dive. Replays show he threw himself to the ground and referee Victor Shvetsov was correct to show him a yellow. That means he is suspended for the next qualifier against Russia at home.

McCourt gets his first touch and finds Shane Ferguson, who is crowded off the ball.

SUBSTITUTE: 'The Derry Diego' Pat McCourt replaces Dean Shiels for Northern Ireland.

The men in white shirts and blue shorts are working their socks off.

Ramaldanov - making his debut - has been solid in that holding midfield role.

CHANCE!!! The ball into the box is looped up into the air after a sloppy piece of defending and Ramaldanov misses the opportunity to double the lead as Carroll holds on.

Moments before that Niall McGinn's shot was well blocked and at the other end Azerbaijan win a corner.

Good defending from the visitors as Daniel Lafferty makes a superb run into the box and his pull back is fired wide by Gareth McAuley.

YELLOW CARD: Vladimir Levin is booked for a rash looking challenge and suddenly the atmosphere has picked up.

Oh dear, Northern Ireland should be level by now.

ANOTHER BAD MISS!!! Craig Cathcart fires over the crossbar from six-yards from Gareth McAuley's knock down.

Northern Ireland get the second half underway at a misty Windsor Park.

Don't forget Northern Ireland fans, if you'd like to air your views during the second half or after the match, email Raz...that's me! at razwan.mirza@bskyb.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.

Northern Ireland are now 2/1 to claim victory with @Skybet, who make Azerbaijan 11/8 and the draw 15/8. My pre-match prediction of a 2-0 home win is now out the window, but a 2-1 victory is a 7/2 shot. Head now to SKYBET to place your bets on this match.

Danny email in to say: "I think northern Ireland will get one back they have been very lucky the past few matches. 1-1 go Northern Ireland."

HALF-TIME: And as the whistle is blown Yazz - The only way is up is played out loud at Windor Park. A shock is on the cards with Rauf Aliyev scoring the only goal of the half with a speculative 30-yarder which found the bottom corner. Craig Cathcart and Daniel Lafferty should have levelled for Northern Ireland, but it has suddenly become an uphill task for Michael O'Neill's men.

GREAT CHANCE!!! Daniel Lafferty heads Shane Ferguson's stunning left-wing cross over the top of the crossbar from 8-yards in the centre of the goal.

There will be a minimum of two added minutes of stoppage time at the end of this half.

After some nice approach work, Chris Baird lets everybody down with an aimless ball into the box.

At the other end Roy Carroll gets into a mess but Northern Ireland evantually clear things up.

YELLOW CARD: Dean Shiels goes over in the box with Ramaldanov with his arms out wide and referee Victor Shvetsov agrees with the Azerbaijan player and books the Rangers man who is sitting down in the penalty area in disbelief.

Michael O'Neill's men have Russia, Israel and Portugal to come at Windsor Park, so three points is surely a must tonight!

Now Nadirov's shot takes a massive deflection and the ball loops up before eventually being caught by Roy Carroll. A few worried faces in the crowd when that ball looped up in the air!

The ball in is a good one and Rasim Ramaldanov heads away. He currently plays his football for Simurq PFC and has impressed so far.

Gokdemir gives away a soft free-kick after fouling Kyle Lafferty. This will be an inswinger from Shane Ferguson.

A half chance for the hosts this time as Gareth McAuley fails to direct his header towards the target.

Amirquliev is another player who has impressed for Azerbaijan in this first-half. A creative typ of player as Northern Ireland win a corner.

Ramaldanov - a debutant tonight - works hard to win the ball back.

The rookie Salahat Agayev collects Kyle Lafferty's cross.

OH NO!!! An even better chance for Craig Cathcart, who somehow heads Dean Shiels header back across goal just wide of the post. Everybody in the ground thought the ball was in the back of the onion sack!

Daniel Lafferty's left-foot cross is missed by Craig Cathcart.

Meanwhile, Rauf Aliyev looks to take on Aaron Hughes, but the Fulham man shows all his experience to hold him off and win his side a goalkick.

Michael O'Neill looks a worried man on the touchline.

This could be bad news for the FC Sion striker, who took a bang to the knee and he's in need of some medical attention.

GREAT CHANCE!!! Steven Davis finds Kyle Lafferty with a cracking pass, but the striker sees his goalbound shot brilliantly saved by the busy Salahat Agayev.

Now it's Daniel Lafferty's chance to try and reach Kyle Lafferty's cross, but again, it's too long.

Dean Shiels looks to reach the ball at the far post, but it fizzes across the surface and goes out for a goalkick.

That point in Portugal would mean nothing if they fail to pick up anything today.

Azerbaijan are happy to keep the ball and try and play their way out. They have just a point to show from their opening three games while Northern Ireland have two points from their three games.

At the other end Aaron Hughes is cool as a cucumber as he chests the ball back to Roy Carroll.

Fundly enough, Salahat Agayev is only making his second appearance for his country, but has showed few signs of nerves.

Gokdemir loses the ball which allows Kyle Lafferty to have the first Northern Ireland effort on target, but Salahat Agayev - who is no relation to the goalscorer - holds on tight.

Vogts has a wealth of experience of course and he will have set his side up to defend well. They'll be tough to break down!

Niall McGinn - who has scored in his last eight games - is always looking for the ball as the hosts play a bit of keep ball.

Azerbaijan, managed by former Scotland boss Berti Vogts, keep the ball well when they have it and are always a threat on the break. They'll look to counter at every opportunity now.

Now the FC Sion man crosses for Niall McGinn, but he's slightly behind the ball and cannot reach it.

Kyle Lafferty stretches to try and direct a header on goal as the pressure continues to mount.

Jonathan emails in to say: "I'm happy to see Ferguson getting in the team, he doesn't play regularly for Newcastle but Alan Pardew can see his potential and I'm sure he'll be whipping some more of his lethal crosses in today. Future star."

That goal really has stunned the home crowd because before that goal, it was all Northern Ireland.

That's the striker's fifth goal in 12 internationals and his seventh overall for his country. What a shocker!

Azerbaijan stun Northern Ireland with their first shot on target. Aliyev picks up the ball 30-yards out and bends a stunning left-foot curler past a helpless Roy Carroll.


SO CLOSE!!! What a chance to break the deadlock for Northern Ireland. Kyle Lafferty heads Niall McGinn's lovely cross just over the crossbar.

CHANCE! Shane Ferguson runs at the full-back, but fails to deliver a telling cross with his magical left-foot. The Newcastle youngster will thrive in this atmosphere.

The game is underway at a sold out Windsor Park in this must-win clash for the home side.

Northern Ireland are 4/6 to claim victory with @Skybet, who make Azerbaijan 4/1 and the draw 13/5. Niall McGinn to score first and Northern Ireland to win 3-0 is priced at 65/1 and well worth a flutter. Meanwhile, Kyle Lafferty is firm favourite to score first at 11/2. Vuqar Nadirov to score first and Azerbaijan to win 1-0 is 60/1. Or how about a draw at half-time and Azerbaijan to win after 90 minutes, which is 9/1. I'm going for a 2-0 home win, which is priced at a steady 11/2. Head now to SKYBET to place your bets on this match.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Carroll, Danny Lafferty, Cathcart, Hughes, Ferguson, Davis, Baird, McAuley, McGinn, Shiels, Kyle Lafferty.

SUBSTITUTES: Healy, Brunt, Mannus, Evans, McCourt, Norwood, Grigg, McGovern.

AZERBAIJAN: Salahat Agayev, Levin, Abusov, Ramaldanov, Medvedev, Gokdemir, Huseynov, Amirquliev, Nadirov, Aliyev, Ozkara.

SUBSTITUTES: Popovich, Guseynov, Naziri, Sadygov, Javadov, Chertoganov, Subasic, Ahmadov, Mammadov, Pamuk, Nazirov.

REFEREE: Victor Shvetsov (Ukraine).

Here come the teams in full then...

O'Neill has also been impressed by the form of Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn, who scored in Portugal last month: "Niall was not getting regular first-team action at Celtic nor when he was on loan at Brentford, but now he's playing in a variety of positions along the front line and he's doing well. It's key that our players establish themselves regularly at first-team level and that in turn offers them a greater chance to shine at international level."

Peterborough midfielder Grant McCann withdrew from the Northern Ireland squad for personal reasons. McCann's wife is pregnant and the 32-year-old has returned home to be with her. McCann was the fifth player to drop out of O'Neill's original 24-man squad following Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, Hull's Alex Bruce and forwards Andy Little and Jamie Ward. Uncapped Inverness striker Billy McKay and Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin and Burnley full-back Danny Lafferty were added to the group.

For O'Neill, the fixture represents a final chance to end his first year in charge with a win. In six games to date he has presided over three wins and three defeats and does not have another fixture booked in until March. As such, he accepts the desire to register his first success is becoming an urgent one. "It's time for us to put three points on the board. That players know that and I know that," he said. "I'm desperate to get my first win as manager and to get the first win with this group of players."

Defeat in Russia and a home draw against Luxembourg represented a modest start to the Group F campaign, but things picked up in unexpected fashion when Michael O'Neill's side claimed a surprise draw in Portugal last month with Niall McGinn on target. Three points against Berti Vogts' Azerbaijan side would leave them in good spirits heading into the new year.

If you'd like to air your views before, during, or at the end of the match, email Raz...that's me! at razwan.mirza@bskyb.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.

Hello and welcome to our live minute-by-minute text commentary of this crucial World Cup qualifying Group F match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan from Windsor Park.


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