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Qarabag shoot down Copenhagen in opener as UEFA Champions League playoffs start


For Qarabag, the old adage “try and try until you succeed’’ is what fires them up to make headway in the UEFA Champions League.

The Azerbaijan team drew first blood against Danish side Kobenhavn after pulling off a 1-0 victory in the first match of their two-leg play-off round at Tofig Bahramov Stadium in Baku on Wednesday.

Forward Mahir Madatov converted the goal for Qarabag in the 25th minute.

Madatov found the back of the net after centre-forward Dino Ndlovu’s long-range shot hit the post.

The return match will take place at Telia Parken in Copenhagen on August 24.

This is the fourth time Qarabag have advanced to the Champions League qualifying but they have never made it past the third round.

Their win over Copenhagen at home might just be the right result to fire them up as they seek to go deep in the tournament despite the tall odds.

Also, Qarabag want to erase the bitter memory of 1998 when they lost heavily against Copenhagen – 4-0 in Azerbaijan, and then 6-0 in Denmark.

Madatov and Ndlovu are tipped to feature again for Qarabag with the latter eyeing to be dangerous in front of goal again.

Ndlovu, from South Africa, has already scored four goals in the new season of the Azerbaijan league. He will be a danger man for the Danish to contain in the second leg.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen have progressed from two of their six appearances in the playoffs – in 2010 and 2016.

Coach Stale Solbakken though have a lot of things to ponder in the second leg in their bid to overcome Hajduk Split’s lead and turn things around in their favour.

But the Azerbaijan unit appear to be ready to take on the challenge during their visit for the crucial second-leg encounter.

Can Qarabag’s resolve be enough to get them past Copenhagen?