The Republic of Ireland opened their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaign with a 1-0 victory against Armenia thanks to Keith Fahey's first international goal.
Armenia gave as good as they got for large swathes of the first meeting between the two nations but were ultimately undone by Fahey's strike 14 minutes from time. The beaten hosts must now look to get off the mark in Group B away against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Tuesday, while Ireland will welcome Andorra for their first competitive fixture at the Dublin Arena.
Giovanni Trapattoni's side will do so with three points on the board, despite coming up against an obdurate defence throughout a first half in which Armenia had only Yura Movsisyan's wayward volley to show for their rare forays forward. Ireland fared little better, however, with captain Robbie Keane spurning their first, and best, opportunity when he raced on to Kevin Doyle's flick-on after eight minutes. Home goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky was also forced to paw away Sean St Ledger's back-post header but was otherwise untroubled.
Indeed, Given was handed greater cause for concern immediately after the break during a ten-minute flurry of Armenian pressure. Having weathered the storm, Ireland perhaps ought to have taken the lead themselves on 63 minutes, when Keane dragged his shot on to the post with just Berezovsky to beat.
The woodwork swiftly came to Ireland's rescue too, as Richard Dunne's defensive header skimmed his own bar, but Trapattoni's men soon found a way through. Keane was crowded out inside the penalty area, but the ball dropped to Fahey, who got his side up and running by firing consummately into the bottom corner just eight minutes after coming on.
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