ESB Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I (Women)
Dublin, Ireland - June 18 - 26, 2011

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Azerbaijan strike late to sink Spain

June 18, 2011
Spain v Azerbaijan 1-2 (0-1)

A 67th minute goal from Khatira Aliyeva gave Azerbaijan all three points in their first match of the ESB Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I, emerging as 2-1 winners over Spain.  The result moves Azerbaijan level on points at the top of Pool B with Ireland, who were winners earlier in the day against India.

Azerbaijan had much the better of the play in the first half, seeing a couple of penalty corner opportunities wasted before team captain Seon Yoon Kim sent a reverse stick shot wide of the target in the 16th minute.  Eventually, Zhang Suleymanova fired Azerbaijan into the lead three minutes from the end of the first half with a perfectly placed penalty corner flick.

Azerbaijan continued to press hard in the early stages of the second half, and would surely have extended their advantage were it not for some excellent goalkeeping from Isabel Barguno. The Spanish shot-stopper pulled of a superb stick save when Yuan Gurbanova burst through only on goal with only the keeper to beat.

Spain’s hopes of getting something from the match vastly improved when Emine Muzaffarova was given a yellow card five minute suspension, and begun to make some promising forays into the Azerbaijan half. However, the Azerbaijan defence held strong and even won a penalty corner of their own before Muzaffarova returned to the field.

Even though their opponents were back to full strength, Spain continued to press forward and eventually found that elusive equalizer when Pilar Sanchez showed quick thinking to bury a penalty corner re-bound in the 55th minute.   

With four minutes remaining Azerbaijan were reduced to ten players once again, with Yuan Gurbanova seeing yellow to give Spain a player advantage in the dying moments of the game. However, Azerbaijan continued to fight hard and won what proved to be a crucial penalty corner. Khatira Aliyeva stepped up to the mark and sent a low flick into the bottom corner of the Spanish goal to give Azerbaijan the victory.  

Spain v Azerbaijan 1-2 (0-1)
ESP 0-1 AZE – Zhang SULEYMANOVA 32m PC
ESP 1-1 AZE – Pilar SANCHEZ 55m PC
ESP 1-2 AZE – Khatira ALIYEVA 67m PC 

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