Prior to their World Cup Qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku on Tuesday evening, Russia needed only a point to book their place in Brazil next summer. Manager Fabio Capello tempered expectations by insisting the game would be no cakewalk: “Azerbaijan are unbeaten at home in this campaign. They’re skilled opponents and are seriously motivated,” he said.
After scoring a 90th-minute equalizer to bring the score to 1-1, Azerbaijan might have handed the automatic qualification place to Portugal on goal difference with a last-gasp winner. However, they brought their "serious motivation" into question in the final few minutes by making absolutely no attempt to win the ball back from Russia.
These few minutes of thoroughly uncompetitive football appeared to be a joint tribute to The Simpsons episode where the beautiful game is mocked for its dull nature:
Azerbaijan could not qualify for the tournament and would have had nothing to lose by going for one last attack. Russia, on the other hand, had their automatic qualification place to lose if Portugal had managed to catch up on goal difference. It might be a stretch to call this shenanigans, but it doesn't seem quite right.
Video H/T: 101GG
- Sports & Recreation