BELGRADE, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Nikola Zigic's 71st minute header gave Serbia a laboured 1-0 win against Azerbaijan in their opening Euro 2008 Group A qualifier played behind closed doors on Saturday.
Zigic powered his downward header past a defender on the
line to give the Serbs a hardly deserved victory in their
competitive debut as an independent nation after the split with
Montenegro in July.
The Serbians were ordered to play a match behind closed
doors for crowd trouble in their final World Cup qualifier
against Bosnia last October.
Coach Javier Clemente's attacking 4-3-3 formation proved
largely ineffective for the home side as a well-organised Azeri
defence stifled their three-man midfield and cut off the supply
routes to the strikers.
Serbia carved out few chances in the first half and Marko
Pantelic squandered the best two inside a minute when goalkeeper
Farkhad Veliyev denied him with a couple of superb reflex saves.
Zigic then headed into the side-netting from two metres on
the half hour before he got on the end of a good cross from
captain Dejan Stankovic to break the deadlock.
Stankovic almost made it 2-0 in the closing stages when his
delightful lob from near the halfway line bounced off the bar.
Serbia play Poland in Warsaw on Wednesday when the Azeris
also entertain Kazakhstan in Baku.