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Armenia 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Paul Green celebrates with Republic of Ireland scorer Keith Fahy

Keith Fahey's 76th-minute goal earned the Republic of Ireland victory in a tense opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Armenia in Yerevan.

Robbie Keane missed a great early chance and Sean St Ledger also went close for the Irish before the break.

Yura Movsisyan and Keane squandered glorious chances at either end before Fahey finally broke the deadlock.

Armenia pressed frantically for an equaliser and the impressive Liam Lawrence made a vital late clearance.

Keane should have put the Irish ahead on eight minutes against the world's 96th ranked side but he sliced the glorious chance wide after Kevin Doyle had nodded on a Shay Given clearance.

Derby's Paul Green, making his competitive debut for the Republic, put his defence in trouble by losing possession in the 12th minute but Levon Pachajyan fired wide.

Armenia's star player Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who signed for Shakhtar Donetsk in a £5.8m move last week, was impressing in his attacking midfield role as the home team's pace was causing problems for the visitors.

Given had to save from Karlen Mkrtchyan and Pachajyan in quick succession as Mkhitaryan continued to torment Green.

However, the clear-cut first-half chances were falling to the Irish and Armenian keeper Roman Berezovsky brilliantly saved St Ledger's close-range header on 22 minutes.

Aiden McGeady then beat two challenges to dart into the Armenian area but the Spartak Moscow player pulled his shot wide.

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Keane had the ball in the Armenian net in the 35th minute but the tight offside call appeared to be correct.

The Spurs striker a strong penalty claim turned down in the 40th minute as he went down under down under Robert Arzumanyan's clumsy challenge.

But the Armenians continued to look dangerous as they ran at the Irish and Yura Movsisyan blasted a 42nd-minute pile-driver just over Given's crossbar.

The warning signs continued for the Irish after the break as Movsisyan squandered a glorious close-range chance by trying to take a second touch instead of blasting past Given and the Armenian's follow-up was bravely blocked by Kilbane.

Mkhitaryan then tested Given with another long-range effort before Keane spurned another great chance at the other end on 63 minutes.

The Irish captain only had keeper Berezovsky from eight yards but he dragged his left-footed shot against the post when the net should have been bulging.

As the Armenians continued to threaten, Richard Dunne almost headed into his own net and Doyle tested Berezovsky a minute later at the other end.

But the game's decisive moment then came on 76 minutes as Birmingham player Fahey slammed to the net from eight yards after Keane's initial effort, following a clever Lawrence ball, had been blocked.

Armenia produced late pressure and the excellent Lawrence produced a vital late clearance in injury-time.


Armenia: Berezovsky, Hovsepyan, Arzumanyan, Karlen Mkrtchyan, Arakelian, Grigorian, Artur Edigaryan, Malakyan, Pachajyan, Movsisyan, Mkhitaryan. Subs: Kasparov, Hambardzumyan, Pizelli, Goharyan, Manoyan, Manucharyan, Mkoyan.

Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Kilbane, Lawrence, Whelan, Green, McGeady, Keane, Doyle. Subs: Westwood, Fahey, Kelly, Gibson, Cunningham, Keogh, Sheridan.

Referee: Zsolt Szabo (Hungary)



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