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Ireland triumph in Yerevan

Keith Fahey's first senior international goal got Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign off to a winning start in a tight encounter which finished 1-0 in Armenia.

The Birmingham midfielder struck 14 minutes from time and just eight minutes after replacing Aiden McGeady to edge his side past an Armenian side which proved just as dangerous as manager Giovanni Trapattoni had predicted.

Skipper Robbie Keane had earlier seen a strike ruled out for offside and hit the post, but Fahey's contribution proved enough.

Ireland were almost caught on the counter early on when Henrikh Mkhitaryan played midfielder Edgar Malakyan in on the left, although the green shirts got back quickly to quell a potentially dangerous attack.

Ireland perhaps should have been in front with eight minutes gone when Kevin Doyle flicked Shay Given's clearance perfectly into Keane's well-timed run. However, with just keeper Roman Berezovsky to beat, he smashed his first-time volley agonisingly wide.

It then took a fine save from Berezovsky to keep out Sean St Ledger's 22nd-minute header. Keane thought he had put the visitors in front 10 minutes before - but was ruled offside - and the appealrf in vain for a 40th-minute penalty after going down under Robert Arzumanyan's challenge.

Ireland were making little headway going forward, and with Armenia sensing an opportunity, they were coming under increasing pressure at the back. Given had to get down well to collect Mkhitaryan's well-struck 61st-minute effort, but his side almost took the lead two minutes later.

Keane once again found space inside the box and with just Berezovsky to beat once again, looked odds-on to score. However, he dragged his left-footed shot and although it beat the goalkeeper, it came back off the post.

Keith Fahey had earlier replaced McGeady, and it was he who finally made the breakthrough 14 minutes from time when, after Keane and Doyle had made nuisances of themselves inside the box, blasting past the keeper.

The home side threw everything they had at Ireland as the final whistle approached, but the visitors held out to claim the three points for which they came.


From Belfast Telegraph