The national football (soccer) teams from Azerbaijan and Russia took to the fields on Thursday to play in the third game of League D Group 3 and League B Group 2, respectively, in a new international football tournament known as the UEFA Nations League.
The biennial international association football competition got its start last month following the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. Senior mens national teams of the member associations of UEFA, the sport's European governing body, compete to ultimately qualify for the UEFA European Football Championship.
Fifty-five national teams from Eurasia are competitors in the Nations League, including the Caspian countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The teams are divided into four divisions, or leagues, with 12 teams in League A, 12 teams in League B, 15 teams in League C, and 16 teams in League D. Each league contains four groups.
Azerbaijan secured its first win against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn after two consecutive draws in previous games. Midfielder Richard Almeida found the net two times, one from a penalty; forward Dmitriy Nazarov scored the next goal, to end the game 3-0.
Azerbaijan’s team is currently the League D Group 3 runner-up with five points, coming behind the group leader Kosovo, which has amassed seven points in three games. The Faroe Islands and Malta stand at numbers three and four, respectively.
The fourth group stage games, to be held on Sunday, will take place between Azerbaijan and Malta in Baku, with Kosovo’s team traveling to the Faroe Islands.
The League B Group 2 game between Russia and Sweden, held in the Baltic coastal city of Kaliningrad, ended with no goals scored. Russia will face off against Turkey at the Fisht Arena in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Sunday.
The Nations League finals will take place in June, while the top teams will get a chance to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2020.