Portugal beats Azerbaijan 2-0 in WCup qualifier


BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) -Portugal failed to shine but claimed its first win in six games by beating 10-man Azerbaijan 2-0 in a World Cup qualifying game Tuesday thanks to goals in the last half-hour by Bruno Alves and Hugo Almeida.

Alves broke the deadlock with a 63rd-minute header at the front post, and substitute Almeida sealed victory in the 79th.

Without suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and injured Nani, the Portuguese struggled to make their dominance tell on the score-sheet. The breakthrough came only after Aliyev Rauf was shown a second yellow card, for elbowing Pepe, and was sent off 10 minutes after the interval.

Portugal remains third in Group F behind Israel on goal difference after the second-place side won 2-0 at Northern Ireland. Russia is only a point ahead of Israel and Portugal but has two games in hand.

"Obviously we're under a lot of pressure," Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. "We're still having trouble taking our chances."

Portugal's winless streak included draws with Israel and Northern Ireland and a defeat in Russia. It also failed to triumph in two friendly games.

Azerbaijan, coached by former Germany manager Berti Vogts, is still looking for its first group victory and has three points.

Like in its 3-3 draw against Israel four days earlier, Portugal created plenty of chances in Baku but didn't make the most of them.

Striker Helder Postiga twice tested Karam Agayev in the first half-hour and was starting to look jinxed when he was denied on the goal-line in the 27th.

Alves hit the woodwork with a 40th-minute free kick.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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