Armenia midfielder Levon Hayrapetyan feels his team have "a real chance" of taking runners-up spot in qualifying Group B after a surprise 4-0 success in Slovakia hauled them right back into the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying equation.
Few were looking beyond Russia, the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia for the section's eventual top two ahead of Armenia's trip to Zilina, but all that changed after Vardan Minasyan's visitors racked up four unanswered goals in the second half. Slovakia had been looking to take over in pole position following Ireland's goalless draw in Moscow, yet they now find themselves down to fourth – level on points with Armenia, one behind Ireland and two shy of Russia.
"We believed from the first minute that we could win the match," said Hayrapetyan. "We had a bit of luck because Slovakia had good chances, but they didn't score and we managed to take the lead. We never thought before the game that we'd win 4-0 but we always believed we could win, and after the third goal it became clear we would. There is a real chance now and we have to be focused for our next game. The main reason for this victory was our great team spirit."
Those sentiments were backed up by Yura Movsisyan, scorer of Armenia's opening goal on 57 minutes before Henrik Mkhitaryan, Gevorg Ghazaryan and Artur Sarkisov made the game safe. "This is a huge victory for us," commented the FC Krasnodar forward. "I'm not surprised by it; we believed in each other from the very beginning.
This was a chance to prove once again that we have a good team, and the fact that we scored all our goals from open play shows that we have good players."
Minasyan's charges will now look to bolster their qualification prospects when they host the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 7 October, when Slovakia must attempt to reinvigorate their bid at home against the group leaders. "This is a big blow for us and we didn't expect a result like it," explained Slovakia coach Vladimír Weiss. "I feel fully responsible for this defeat. The first half was good from us, but the second half went totally wrong and Armenia punished us. Congratulations to them."
"We're very disappointed," added Slovakia forward Miroslav Stoch. "We had three good chances in the first half and failed to convert them into goals. We either shot at the goalkeeper or a defender on the line. Nothing's finished yet, though, and we'll keep fighting to the end and try to surprise everyone."
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