Ireland beats Armenia 2-1 to make Euro playoffs
Ireland qualified for the playoffs for next year’s European
Championship after capitalizing on Armenia goalkeeper Roman
Berezovski’s disputed sending-off to win 2-1 at home on
Berezovski was red-carded in the 26th minute for handling an
attempted lob by Ireland striker Simon Cox outside his area,
although television replays suggested the ball hit the goalkeeper’s
Ireland took full advantage, going ahead in the 42nd through
Valeri Aleksanyan’s own goal before center back Richard Dunne added
a second in the 59th.
Henrik Mkhitaryan replied two minutes later for Armenia, which
would have finished runner-up in Group B with a win in Dublin,
before Ireland striker Kevin Doyle was shown a second yellow card
in the 80th.
The victory wasn’t enough for the Irish to top the group because
Russia beat Andorra 6-0, maintaining its two-point lead.
However, Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni was delighted his
side battled past a team he labeled the best in the group.
”Armenia has scored many, many more goals than us. In every
position they have a strong team, their midfield is very quick and
fast, also their striker is very dangerous. So I am happy,”
Armenia was attempting to reach the finals of a major tournament
for the first time but its hopes virtually disappeared when Spanish
referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez sent Berezovski off.
”I personally thought it wasn’t a handball from their point of
view, but we’ll take that and we’ll take the sending-off,” Cox
said. ”We’re just a little bit unfortunate we got one as
In addition to the fact that Berezovski may not have touched the
ball with his arm, Gonzalez should have whistled moments earlier
because Cox had controlled the long through ball from Glenn Whelan
with his outstretched right arm.
”It only just came over my shoulder and I tried to control
it,” Cox said. ”Sometimes it works and sometimes it
Ireland was on the wrong end of a referee’s handball decision
two years ago in a qualification playoff against France for the
2010 World Cup.
On that occasion, the official didn’t see France striker Thierry
Henry bring down a cross with his hand, before centering for
William Gallas to score the crucial goal in extra time.
Ireland also finished with 10 men after Doyle was dismissed for
elbowing his marker as he challenged for a high ball, but the
damage had been done by then for Armenia.
Aleksanyan’s own goal was completely avoidable, the defender
glancing the ball into his own net from five yards (meters) without
an Irishman near him after Doyle had failed to get anything on
Damien Duff’s cross.
Dunne then scored his first international goal in two years,
bundling in a cross from Aiden McGeady that was flapped at by
replacement goalkeeper Arsen Petrosyan.
Armenia was given a flicker of hope two minutes later when
Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given failed to keep out Mkhitaryan’s
curling shot from edge of area – conceding Ireland’s first goal in
However, Ireland survived without any further trouble and awaits
its playoff opponent in Thursday’s draw.
Ireland: Shay Given, John O’Shea, Sean St. Ledger, Richard
Dunne, Stephen Kelly, Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan
(Keith Fahey, 76), Aiden McGeady (Stephen Hunt, 67), Kevin Doyle,
Simon Cox (Jon Walters, 80).
Armenia: Roman Berezovski, Sargis Hovsepyan, Karlen Mkrtchyan,
Marcos Pizzelli (Edgar Manucharyan, 62), Edgar Malakyan (Arsen
Petrosyan, 28), Gevorg Ghazaryan (Artur Sarkisov, 62), Yura
Movsisyan, Hrayr Mkoyan, Valeri Aleksanyan, Henrik Mkhitaryan,