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Slovakia hopes dented as Armenia win in Yerevan

Armenia 3-1 Slovakia
Second-half goals from Gevorg Ghazaryan and Henrik Mkhitaryan secured a surprise victory for the hosts in Yerevan.

Robert Arzumanyan (right) of Armenia and Kamil Kopúnek compete in Yerevan
Robert Arzumanyan (right) of Armenia and Kamil Kopúnek compete in Yerevan ©Getty Images

Second-half goals from Gevorg Ghazaryan and Henrik Mkhitaryan secured a sensational 3-1 win for Armenia against Slovakia in Yerevan.

The visitors had begun the day as joint-leaders of Group B following last month's win in Russia but they fell behind to Yura Movsisyan's 23rd-minute opener. Although Vladimír Weiss equalised before the break, Ghazaryan restored the hosts' lead soon after and Mkhitaryan then secured their first win of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying in the closing moments.

Vardan Minasyan's team made the early running though the first clear scoring chance fell to Slovakia. Miroslav Stoch won a free-kick near the byline and from his cross Martin Škrtel won the aerial duel with goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky but headed just wide.

Armenia's first effort of note came after 20 minutes when Marcos Pizzelli fired just wide of the right post and the same player was the architect of the opening goal three minutes later. His gorgeous through pass put Movsisyan one-on-one with Ján Mucha and the Armenia forward calmly shot through the goalkeeper's legs. Mkhitaryan almost made it two soon after but Mucha was equal to his fierce free-kick.

The goal clearly affected Slovakia, but they gradually recovered their stride and after Weiss had narrowly missed the top-right corner from distance, he made no mistake with his second opening. With 37 minutes played, the Slovakia coach's son and namesake received the ball in the area, beat two defenders and fired past Berezovsky from close range.

Within five minutes of the restart, however, Armenian were back in front. Mucha could only parry substitute Edgar Manucharyan's attempt and Ghazaryan drilled home from close in. Slovakia stepped up the tempo as they sought a second equaliser, but the Armenians still carried a threat on the counterattack. Movsisyan had a free-kick saved by Mucha, while Ghazaryan failed to score in a one-on-one situation.

The final word went to Mkhitaryan with a minute remaining. Ghazaryan was the provider with a short pass to the FC Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker who beat Mucha with a low shot inside the left-hand corner from the edge of the box.