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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Azerbaijan 0-0 N Ireland
Northern Ireland's Jeff Whitley hurdles a challenge during the 0-0 draw in Azerbaijan
Northern Ireland failed to get the win they needed to climb into contention in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

They recovered from the early loss of injured Chris Baird to have several chances in the second half.

Jeff Whitley and James Quinn were both denied by Jahangir Hasanzade and Damien Johnson came close while Stuart Elliott felt had claims for a penalty rejected.

Azerbaijan also threatened with Makhmud Gurbanov firing wide and Samir Aliyev chipping on to the roof of the net.

With a home game to come on Wednesday against Austria, Lawrie Sanchez was looking for his side to get their first victory of the campaign.

But the Northern Ireland manager was forced to reorganise after nine minutes when defender Baird went off with an ankle injury and was replaced by Keith Gillespie. The Southampton player must be a big doubt for the Austrian match.

Delicate chip

Northern Ireland suffered a scare in the 13th minute when Gurbanov sidefooted the ball wide from a good position after a cross from Ismayil Mamedov.

Then Rashad Sadygov, who scored in the 1-1 draw with Wales, tried his luck with a free-kick which went narrowly over Maik Taylor's bar from 35 yards out.

In the 61st minute, Elliott had his penalty claims waved away as he appeared to be impeded while trying to reach a cross from Keith Gillespie.

Azerbaijan almost took the lead in the 67th minute when Aliyev's delicate chip finished on the roof of the net.

Play switched down the other end, and Whitley saw his effort turned over by goalkeeper Hasanzade.

Then Quinn found the wrong side of the post after closing down the keeper.

Northern Ireland could not get the breakthrough they craved but their keeper Taylor will be pleased with the clean sheet after conceding three against Poland and two in Wales.

Azerbaijan: Hasanzade, Amirbekov, Hajiyev, Shukurov, Emin Guliyev, Kamal Guliyev, Makhmud Gurbanov (Ponomarev 58), Nabiev, Sadygov, Mamedov (Ilgar Gurbanov 55), Aliyev (Gurban Gurbanov 76). Subs Not Used: Mekhtiev, Kerimov, Abbasov, Abdullayev.

Northern Ireland: Taylor, Clyde, Murdock, Williams, Aaron Hughes, Baird (Gillespie 9), Johnson, Whitley, Doherty, Elliott, Quinn (Smith 76). Subs Not Used: Carroll, Brunt, Davis, Craigan, Griffin.

Ref: Attila Hanacsek (Hungary).

Report: BBC Five Live's Ian Dennis

Interview: Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez

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