Varela sparks Portugal's win over Azerbaijan

Silvestre Varela set Portugal on their way to a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan in their World Cup qualifier.

Portuguese forward Silvestre Varela. Picture: AFP.

LISBON - Silvestre Varela again proved his worth by coming off the bench to break the deadlock with his first touch and set Portugal on their way to a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan in their 2014 World Cup Group F qualifier on Tuesday.

After much frustration and wasted chances for the Portuguese, Varela slotted home in the 64th minute. The winger also made a big impact as a substitute in Euro 2012 when he scored to secure a last-gasp group stage win over Denmark in June.

Portugal were never sure of victory on Tuesday until striker Helder Postiga and defender Bruno Alves scored in quick succession in the last five minutes.

Braga's distinctive "Quarry" stadium welcomed 30,000 fans who were not disappointed by the home side's attacking display, but were made to wait anxiously for a goal.

Azerbaijan, forged in the steely ways of their coach, former Germany defender Berti Vogts, fought resiliently and kept the hosts at bay in the first half.

But Portugal, now with two wins from two in Group F, kept pressing on and were rewarded eventually when substitute Varela picked up a loose ball that was fumbled away from a Cristiano Ronaldo effort and drilled it in.