the 5-4 overtime win for England over Azerbaijan had its ups and downs as the two teams scored and put pressure on the others defense. The English took the lead first but Azerbaijan turned up the pressure on took multiple two goal leads late in the match. England`s never say die mentality came through as they scored in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime and then scored in the opening seconds of the extra period, then held off the Azerbaijan attacks to hold on for the win. The win gives England two points and a big confidence boost as they go into their next match against Hungary on Thursday. Azerbaijan has the opportunity to rebound against Switzerland on Thursday.
England and Azerbaijan were both very evenly matched and the first period was a display of that with the two teams using clever passing and air-tight defense to keep the other side from scoring. Azerbaijan looked to be in control for much of the period but England`s Day saw an opening and countered late in the period to give his side the 1-0 lead going into the first break. Azerbaijan was winning the ball control battle and though it had not delivered a goal until near the midway point of the match, they were rewarded with a direct kick just outside the penalty area, but that opportunity also went unfilled as England maintained the one goal advantage heading into the last minutes of the frame. As the Three Lions` confidence grew, so did their chances, but the Azerbaijani flipped the script and scored their first in the last minutes of the period to tie the score at 1 going into the final period.
The opening minute of the last frame is when Azerbaijan took their first lead at 2-1, after a beautiful bicycle from Sabir that struck the English goalie but still got through. That goal looked to be a game changer as Azerbaijan scored again to take the two goal lead, and how goals were at a premium, it looked daunting for England to get back into the match. That did not stop England`s attack or Clarke who scored his teams second goal to make the score 3-2 for Azerbaijan. Sabir was doing everything he could to carry his team on his back and he scored again, late in the period to make the score 4-2, but England quickly responded again to move to within one after the second goal for Clarke. The drama was far from over as the English scored again in the last minute, on a penalty kick from Clarke, his third of the game, to knot the score at 4 and send the game into overtime. The opening seconds of the extra frame were basically an extension of the final seconds of the third period as both team were physical, tackles were flying, and shots were fired, but the first dagger was from England and Corbett, who struck a great shot that was saved, but he followed up his own miss and reacted with a bicycle to give the English the lead once again.
Goals: 1-0: Day, min. 1 (1); 1-1: Sabir, min. 1 (2); 1-2: Sabir, min. 11 (3); 1-3: Amid, min. 9 (3); 2-3: Clarke, min. 8 (3); 2-4: Sabir, min. 4 (3); 3-4: Clarke, min. 3 (3); 4-4: Clarke, min. 0 (3); 5-4: Corbett, min. 2 (et).
09:00 - England 5-4 (aet) Azerbaijan (Group IV)
10:15 - Belarus 8-2 Poland (Group I)
11:30 - Romania 3(2)-3(0) (pen) Germany (Group III)
12:45 - Ukraine 5-1 France (Group II)
14:00 - Hungary 3-6 Switzerland (Group IV)
15:15 - Turkey 3-6 Spain (Group II)
16:30 - Greece 0-3 Russia (Group III)
17:45 - Estonia 3-8 Italy (Group I)