AKU, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Portugal kept alive their hopes of
qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals after two first-half goals
gave them a 2-0 victory over 10-man Azerbaijan in their Group A
qualifier on Saturday.
Dominant Portugal started brightly and defender Bruno Alves
opened the scoring after 12 minutes with a glancing header
following a corner from Deco.
Azerbaijan were reduced to 10 men on 28 minutes when captain
Aslan Karimov was sent-off for a foul on winger Cristiano
Portugal, who had drawn their last three qualifiers, doubled
their lead on the stroke of half-time when striker Hugo Almeida,
a late replacement for the injured Nuno Gomes, tapped in a cross
from the right by Miguel.
Azerbaijan counter-attacked strongly in the second half and
Branimir Subasic shot wide with only goalkeeper Ricardo to beat
after 75 minutes.
Ronaldo failed to celebrate his 50th appearance for
Portuguese side with a goal when he hit the Azerbaijan post
after a fine run on 77 minutes
Portugal trail leaders Poland, who face Kazakhstan later on
Saturday, by a point with three qualifying matches to go in the
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was serving the first of a
three-match ban imposed by UEFA after what the governing body
termed an "assault" on player Ivica Dragutinovic after
Portugal's 1-1 draw at home to Serbia on Sept. 12.