FC Pyunik will take a one-goal lead into the return leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie against Icelandic title-holders KR Reykjavik after Levon Pachajyan's goal gave them victory in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
Pyunik dominated the play for most of the match but for an hour were frustrated by a superb performance from Kristjan Finnbogason in the KR goal. Argentinian striker Juan Pablo Peralta, 19-year-old midfield player Pachajyan and fellow teenager Edgar Manucharyan all came close to opening the scoring for the home team, but only on 61 minutes was the deadlock broken.
Carl Lombe, another of Pyunik's youth contingent at just 17, was the provider, with his precise cross perfectly measured for Pachajyan to finish from close range. The home side might have doubled their advantage soon after but Edouard Partsikian was denied by an excellent save from Finnbogason.
Rafael Nazaryan had the perfect opportunity to double Pyunik's lead when he stepped up to take a penalty 17 minutes from the end, but he became another victim of Finnbogason's fine display as the 'keeper saved the spot kick. KR held on for the last few minutes to give themselves every chance of progressing to the next round to meet Bulgaria's PFC CSKA Sofia after next Wednesday's return in Iceland.
KR coach Willum Thor Thorsson paid tribute to Finnbogason afterwards, saying: "I think we have achieved the result we wanted in this game.
The hosts could have won by a much bigger score, but our goalkeeper has played one of the best games of his career tonight."
'Very interesting to watch'
His Pyunik counterpart Mihai Stoichita reflected on his team's missed chances. He said: "The game was very interesting to watch, especially the second half. Pyunik created many chances, and we should have scored more than once, but
I liked our opponents, who defended with heart."
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