Russia were already resigned to second place following defeat to group winners Germany on Saturday, and coach Guus Hiddink, with six players on yellow cards and an eye on next month's play-offs, fielded an experimental side in Baku. But it was mainstay of the campaign, Arshavin, who broke the deadlock after 13 minutes, tapping in from close range after Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agaev could only palm Alan Dzagoev's shot into the Arsenal man's path.
Having taken the lead, Russia were guilty of taking their foot off the gas and allowed their hosts to come into the game. A deep free-kick from Vladimir Levin in the 19th minute eluded everyone and Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had to be alert to turn the bouncing ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner Makhir Shukurov was presented with a sight of goal but mis-hit his shot wide. Azerbaijan came close again in the 28th minute when Aleksandr Chertoganov's stooping header forced a sharp save from Akinfeev at his near post.
Despite Azerbaijan's spell of pressure, Russia remained a threat on the break and came close to doubling their lead three minutes before half-time. A neat combination between Arshavin and Vladimir Bystrov resulted in a delicate lob from the Zenit St Petersburg midfielder that bounced off the top of the crossbar and over.
Three minutes into the second half, Azerbaijan came within inches of equalising when Sergei Ignashevich's hesitant defending allowed Javadov a shot on goal that Igor Akinfeev awkwardly fisted against the crossbar. And moments later Russia were made to pay for their slack defending when Javadov was allowed another sight of goal, catching out Akinfeev with a bouncing shot from 30 yards to level the score.
Hiddink brought on Igor Denisov and the uncapped Aleksandr Bukharov to try to wake his side from their slumber, and Arshavin almost regained the lead for the visitors with a clever turn and volley that was blocked by Agaev.
With 10 minutes remaining English referee Howard Webb awarded Russia a penalty after Dzagoev tumbled under a challenge from Samir Abbasov, but Ignashevich's weak spot-kick was held by Agaev. It summed up a frustrating night for Hiddink's men.