Northern Ireland needed a stoppage time equaliser from David Healy to rescue a point against Azerbaijan

By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza.   Last Updated: 15/11/12 8:21am

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Northern Ireland's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in Rio took a massive dent - despite rescuing a point at the death against minnows Azerbaijan.

David Healy scored his first international goal in four years with a 96th minute free-kick to secure a 1-1 draw at Windor Park in World Cup qualifying Group F after Rauf Aliyev had given Berti Vogts' side a shock lead.

Azerbaijan had lost 43 of their previous 46 international away games, but Aliyev stunned the home side by scoring the opening goal of the game with a stunning 30-yarder after just five minutes.

He collected Javid Huseynov's pass before hitting a superb left-foot curler into the bottom corner past a stunned Roy Carroll.

Northern Ireland should have restored parity as Craig Cathcart somehow headed Dean Shiels cross wide of the post.

And just before the break Daniel Lafferty missed glorious chances when he headed Shane Ferguson's stunning left-wing cross over the crossbar.

Chris Baird was guilty of missing a couple more glorious chances after the interval.

But deep into stoppage time substitute Healy was the hero when he slammed home his 36th international goal with a free-kick from the edge of the box to the relief of the home faithful.

The Bury man averted what would have been an embarrassing defeat although the result leaves Northern Ireland with three points from four games and all but out of the reckoning.

The point is unlikely to be enough to rescue Northern Ireland's slim qualifying hopes but it did save Michael O'Neill's side from one of their most ignominious defeats.

It also consigned last month's heroic draw in Portugal firmly to the history books

Northern IrelandTeam StatisticsAzerbaijan
1Goals1
01st Half Goals1
6Shots on Target5
12Shots off Target3
5Blocked Shots1
6Corners1
13Fouls14
0Offsides2
5Yellow Cards4
0Red Cards0
80Passing Success64.3
19Tackles17
84.2Tackles Success94.1
65.2Possession34.8
67.9Territorial Advantage32.1
534Total Passes291
40Total Crosses5
186Lost Balls177
71Recoveries59
62.71st Half Poss.37.3
67.12nd Half Poss.32.9

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