By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Azerbaijan’s Qarabag FC has reached another historic achievement by entering the group stage of European club competitions for the sixth time in a row.
The Azerbaijani champion has beaten Linfield FC from Northern Ireland in the UEFA Europa League playoff stage and managed to get into the group stage of the competition.
In the first leg, Qarabag FC disappointed its fans by losing 3-2. However, in the return game, which was held on August 29 in Baku, the team, from the first minutes, went forward and this brought fruits. Jaime Romero's left-foot shot in the bottom corner at the sixth minute became irresistible for Linfield FC’s goalkeeper. In the 88th minute, Abdellah Zoubir scored a much-needed goal. Linfield FC also did not leave the field without a goal. On 90+3 minute, Shayne Lavery scored the last goal in the match, 2-1. So, 4-4 on aggregate, and Qarabag FC qualified on away goals.
Thus, Qarabag FC will continue its performance in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
Qarabag FC, which became the champion of 2018-2019 Azerbaijan Premier League, began its European campaign in the UEFA Champions League.
In the first qualifying round, the club from Azerbaijan faced FK Partizani Albania. The first leg ended in a tie 0-0 in Tirana, while Qarabag FC proved its superiority in the return match in Baku, 2-0.
In the next stage, Qarabag FC met with Irish Dundalk FC. Azerbaijani champion held the first match away and got an acceptable draw 1-1. The second leg was luckier and Qarabag FC did not give a chance to its opponent, 3-0.
Further, a more serious rival was waiting for Qarabag FC. Apoel FC, which is considered the most successful Cyprus team, could stop Qarabag FC’s road to UEFA Champions League playoff. Despite the 2-1 victory in Nikosia, Qarabag FC wasn't able to keep the advantage in the second leg, 0-2.
Thus, Qarabag FC continues its way in the UEFA Europa League playoff.
In 2017-2018 season, Qarabag FC opened a new page in the history of Azerbaijani football by reaching the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
The club is named after Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been kept under Armenian occupation for over two decades.
Qarabag FC is among few clubs worldwide with refugee status. After the occupation of Agdam in 1993, the team was compelled to leave its hometown and settled in different cities. Today Qarabag FC plays home matches in Baku.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz