By Akbar Mammadov
Azerbaijani football clubs played their first matches in the Europa League this season on August 27.
The country was represented by Neftchi Baku, Sumgayit and Keshla in the Europa League, which joined the competition at the first qualification round.
Last season's silver medalist of the Azerbaijani Premier League Neftchi, facing Northern Macedonian Shkupi, beat its rival with a score of 2:1. Thanks to this victory, Baku's Neftchi club advanced for the second qualification round of the Europa League.
With the goal of Sabir Bougrine in the 66th minute, Neftchi opened the score. In the last minutes of the match, two goals came in two minutes. In the 88th minute, Anton Krivotsyuk scored the second goal for Neftchi, while Dembo Darboe scored the only goal of Shkupi in the added 3rd minute of the match. The third qualifying round draw will be held on September 1 will determine next rival of Neftchi.
The match held at Bakcell Arena was refereed by Latvian referees Alexander Golubev, assisted by sideline referees Raimonds Tatrix and Jevgenijs Morozovs. The fourth official was Artis Kenins.
Sumgayit nicknamed “Youth City” participated in the European Cups for the first time and faced Northern Macedonia's Shkendija in their debut match. Playing its first match in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, Sumgayit couldn't qualify for the next round. Thus, playing with ten men after the red card, Sumgayit was defeated by Shkendija with a score of 0:2.
The match was held at Kapital Bank Arena and was refereed by Kazakh referee Arman Esmuratov who was assisted by his compatriots Sergei Vasyutin, Samat Tergevsizov and Jandos Abjan.
Another Azerbaijani club Keşla led by Yunis Huseynov hosted the Albanian club Laç in Baku and was defeated with the score 5:4.
The match was held at Shafa Arena was ruled by a team of referees from Georgia. The match was refereed by Georgi Kikacheishvili. He was assisted by sideline referees David Gabisonia and David Akhvlediani. The fourth judge was Irakli Kvirikashvili.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the matches were played in only one leg, so the winner of the matches advanced for the second qualification round of the Europa League.
With results, Azerbaijan will be represented by Qarabag (Champions League) and Neftchi (Europa Leauge) in the European competitions.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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