Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ireland through to Euro play-offs

Ireland secured a Euro 2012 play-off spot after a dramatic 2-1 win over Armenia, but it came at a price as Kevin Doyle was sent-off in the second half.

The striker is now certain to miss the first leg of the play-offs and will need some generosity from UEFA to avoid a two-game ban.

With injured skipper Robbie Keane struggling to make next month's double header, Ireland's striking options are limited for their biggest game in two years.

However, Giovanni Trapattoni will take some comfort from a fine performance by Keane's replacement Simon Cox.

Cox's inclusion over Shane Long had prompted much talk and he had the chance to repay his manager's faith after ten minutes.

Doyle flicked on for Cox, who turned well but was crowded out as he tried to shoot. Doyle fired straight at Berezovsky when the ball came his way.

At the other end, Ireland's defence was cut open by Marcos Pizzelli's pass. Shay Given was happy to see Yura Movisyan's heavy touch push the ball wide.

Ireland were given a huge boost just before the half hour mark, as Berezovsky was sent-off for handling Cox's lob outside the box.

McGeady was instrumental as Ireland doubled their lead through Dunne. The winger danced away from his markers to cross. Petrosyan flapped at the ball and Dunne knocked it into the net.

Armenia were rewarded for their efforts as they caught Ireland napping to get back in the game. Mkhitaryan was given too much space and fired low, although Given will feel he should have done better with the shot.

The game became stretched as Armenia pushed for an equaliser, which left gaps at the back. Duff found McGeady in space but he hesitated and was quickly closed down.

Doyle compounded a disappointing evening by picking up a second yellow card when he caught Karlen Mkrtchyan with his elbow.

Jonathan Walters' impressive late cameo will have done little to harm his chances of starting that play-off first leg, alongside man-of-the-match Cox.

Ireland: 1 Given; 4 O'Shea, 2 St Ledger, 5 Dunne, 3 Kelly; 7 McGeady (15 Hunt 68), 6 Whelan (17 Fahey '76), 8 Andrews, 11 Duff; 9 Doyle, 10 Cox (13 Walters '80).

Subs not used: 16 Westwood, 12 Coleman, 14 Long, 18 O'Dea.

Booked: St Ledger, McGeady, Doyle.

Sent-off: Doyle.

Armenia: 1 Berezovsky; 4 Hovsepyan, 15 Mkoyan, 16 Aleksanyan, 20 Hayrapetyan; 9 Malkyan (23 Petrosyan 29'), 6 Mkrtchyan; 10 Ghazaryan (11 Sarkisov '62), 8 Pizzelli (22 Manucharyan '53), 18 Mkhitaryan; 14 Movsisyan.

Subs not used: 21 Badoyan, 17 Artak Edigaryan, 7 Artur Edigaryan, 3 Yuspashyan.

Booked: Petrosyan.

Sent-off: Berezovsky.

Attendance: 45,200