Monthly review: Three more victories have seen FC Pyunik tighten their grip on the Armenian title.
By Khachik Chakhoyan
Three more victories have seen FC Pyunik tighten their grip on the 2004 Armenian title.
The reigning champions took a significant step closer to claiming their fourth consecutive title following wins against FC MIKA, FC Shirak, FC Kotayk and FC Dinamo-Zenit Yerevan to maintain their 19-game unbeaten run since the start of the league season and extend their lead over second-placed MIKA to 12 points.
The 23 August meeting with MIKA ended with a comfortable 3-0 home win for Pyunik despite the absence of injured goalscoring sensation Edgar Manchuryan. Galust Petrosyan took full advantage of his team-mate's absence, returning to the first eleven and scoring the opening two goals of the game, and he was also on target in the 4-1 win at Shirak on 28 August.
However, it was Manchuryan who took the plaudits again in the following two games. His 54th-minute penalty was the only goal of the game against in-form Kotayk on 2 September, and he was back on scoring form after the break for FIFA World Cup qualifiers, hitting the opening two goals in a 5-1 win at Dinamo-Zenit on 13 September.
MIKA lose ground
A bad spell for second-placed MIKA ended on 12 September when they got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at FC Ararat Yerevan. Having lost 3-0 to the leaders on 23 August they lost further ground in their following game, drawing 0-0 at Kotayk, before their match against FC Banants was postponed, because so many of their opponents were playing for the Armenian Under-21 side.
Kotaik on the up
Banants remain in third place in the table, eleven points behind MIKA, after two wins and a draw this month, but one point ahead of Ararat who won just one of their last four fixtures. At the other end of the table, five points in four games for Kotayk under new coach Gevorg Kamalyan has lifted them just above basement dwellers FC Kilikia and Shirak.