Ireland secure play-off berth at Armenia's expense
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Republic of Ireland 2-1 Armenia
Both sides had a player sent off as Giovanni Trapattoni's charges booked their play-off place with a narrow Group B victory at the Dublin Arena.
Article top media content
The Republic of Ireland took second place in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group B and a play-off berth at the expense of Armenia, in a tense contest in which both sides had a player sent off.
Armenia were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper Roman Berezovski was adjudged to have handled outside his box and Ireland were then handed the initiative when Valeri Aleksanyan turned the ball into his own net. Richard Dunne doubled the lead after the break but Henrik Mkhitaryan's strike and a second yellow card for Kevin Doyle ensured a nervy finish for the hosts in Dublin.
Ireland had started brightly and found themselves with a man advantage on 26 minutes when the referee penalised Berezovski with a red card after he leapt to block Simon Cox's attempted lob. Aiden McGeady fired over from the resulting free-kick, yet Ireland did not have to wait long for the opening goal. Damien Duff broke free down the right and fired the ball across the face of goal; Doyle could not connect but Aleksanyan accidentally prodded it home.
Armenia created the first opportunity after the interval when Yura Movsisyan evaded the attentions of Dunne only for his effort to be saved by Shay Given. However, Ireland began to make their superior numbers count and seemingly put the game beyond the visitors just shy of the hour when Dunne turned in McGeady's centre.
Armenia maintained their attacking threat, though, and got themselves back into the match almost immediately: Movsisyan squared to Mkhitaryan who scored his fifth qualifying goal with a measured shot into the bottom left-hand corner. Knocked off their stride by the Armenia goal, Giovanni Trapattoni's men had to endure a nervous finale after Doyle received his second booking with nine minutes remaining. However, they held on for the win and will learn their fate in Thursday's play-off draw, which takes place in Krakow at 13.00CET.