FC Pyunik 2-2 FC Dynamo Kyiv (Dynamo win 6-2 on aggregate)
FC Pyunik fought back from two goals down against FC Dynamo Kyiv in Armenia tonight but were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League following last week's first-leg defeat in Ukraine.
Look back with pride
While Dynamo are now anticipating negotiating the third and final qualifying round and reaching the first group stage, Pyunik can look back with pride on a sterling comeback which very nearly saw them account for one of eastern Europe's traditional powerhouses.
Provider turned scorer
Buoyed by a 4-0 success in the Ukrainian capital last week, Dynamo started strongly and in the eighth minute extended their aggregate advantage when Maxim Shatskikh beat Andronik Karagezyan in the Pyunik goal from Olexander Melashenko's headed pass. Provider turned goalscorer 20 minutes later when Melashenko took advantage of a Florin Cernat through-ball to make it 2-0.
If the second goal was a cue for Dynamo to repeat their first-leg showing, Pyunik had not read the script and they hauled themselves back into the match with an outstanding strike in the 31st minute - Artavazd Karamyan rifling in a direct free-kick after Vardan Minasyan had been felled following a menacing run.
Pyunik clearly sensed that Dynamo were there for the taking after the interval and they pressed continually in search of an equaliser, which arrived in the 57th minute. Artavazd Karamyan was again instrumental in the goal, this time forcing Olexander Shovskovsky to parry away his fierce shot which his twin brother, Arman, pounced on. Pyunik coach Oscar López felt the fightback will help boost confidence: "We showed we are a decent team today. We needed this draw mentally," he said.
’Poor in defence’
Though relieved to see his side progress, Dynamo coach Olexiy Mykhailichenko was critical of the defensive lapses which allowed Pyunik to steal a draw. "We were very poor in defence today, especially in the second half when the Armenians scored and had several good chances," he said. "I think we should learn a lesson from this if we want to reach the group stage. The game did not satisfy me at all."