Azerbaijan moved off the bottom of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying Group 4 courtesy of their first ever away win, at the expense of Liechtenstein in Vaduz. Vagif Javadov and Elvin Mammadov were the men on target in the second half at the Rheinpark Stadion as Berti Vogts' side leapfrogged their hosts at the foot of the table.
The result moved Azerbaijan on to four points and left Liechtenstein on two before Wednesday's final round of matches, which will involve the pair hosting Russia and Wales respectively.
Liechtenstein struggled without eight regulars, including captain Mario Frick, Michael and Martin Stocklasa, Michele Polverino and Andreas Gerster. Azerbaijan were without Samir Abbasov through suspension, but started well in an open first period.
Mammadov passed up a fine chance for the visitors, and Ronny Buechel did the same when presented with the visitors' best opportunity of the half. Javadov put Azerbaijan ahead ten minutes into the second half, sparking Liechtenstein into action. The hosts pushed for the leveller, but were let down by their final ball.
We lost too much quality with our eight missing players.
Azerbaijan were content to play the remainder of the game on the counter-attack, but still managed to nick a second eight minutes from time. The lively Mammadov capitalised on a mistake by Liechtenstein defender Yves Oehri and slotted home the clincher to give his side some breathing space.
Liechtenstein did not give up, but substitute Roger Beck and David Hasler both missed the target in stoppage time as the hosts slumped. Azerbaijan coach Vogts was delighted to have guided his team to their first away win .
"We didn't move well and the passes in the first half were not really good," said the German. "At least we could increase our style of combination football in the second half. That's the way I like it."
Liechtenstein coach Bidu Zaugg, who will be without Franz Burgmeier and Thomas Beck through suspension for Wednesday's match against Wales, was understandably disappointed.
"We lost too much quality with our eight missing players," he said. "Under these circumstances the team showed a good performance in the fist half. When we conceded the first goal, our team lost control of the match.
"The second goal was an individual mistake. The victory for Azerbaijan is something we have to accept."