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Armenia 1-0 Ireland

Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

It’s the first competitive game that Ireland have played in a long time where the spectre of Stephen Kenny’s future isn’t hanging over the team.

It’s a testament to how much the Boys in Green have improved in recent times that there is a real optimism about the side ahead of the Nations League opener.

All that goodwill can turn pretty quickly though, and Armenia are a potentially tricky opponent, having beaten both Romania and Iceland in the World Cup qualifiers.

However, they will hope to play better than their most recent fixture — a 9-0 friendly loss against Norway.

Ireland, meanwhile, come into this game on the back of an encouraging 2-2 draw with Belgium and a slightly fortuitous last-gasp 1-0 win over Lithuania. 

Confirmation of the Irish team below with Troy Parrott and Caoimhín Kelleher among the starters.

Speaking on RTÉ, Stephen Kenny says Gavin Bazunu has been “ruled out really” with a back injury.

He backs Caoimhín Kelleher to perform well in the Man City youngster’s absence, saying he “hasn’t put a foot wrong” in his Ireland career so far.

So who do you think will win?

Poll Results:

Ireland (310)
Armenia (127)
Draw (109)

We’re underway…

Ireland start on the front foot.

Coleman gets a cross in, but goalkeeper Yurchenko collects it comfortably.

It’s been a fairly scrappy start.

Ireland have seen plenty of the ball, but haven’t really put the Armenian defence under any pressure.

As I type, the ball falls to Barseghyan on the edge of the area.

Kelleher gets down well to tip the low shot at his near post away for a corner.

Moments later, Duffy has to make a last-ditch block to prevent Spertsyan from getting a clear shot on goal.

Ireland are under a bit of pressure all of a sudden.

Shane Duffy picks up the game’s first booking early on.

A stray pass puts him in trouble and the defender lunges and takes down Barseghyan.

Ireland have been generally quite sloppy when finding themselves in promising positions in the final third.

Robinson is the latest culprit, as he mis-controls it and causes the visitors to concede possession.

Half-chance for Ireland.

Ogbene plays a through pass for Robinson, whose first-time shot from a tight angle finds the side netting.

Better from Kenny’s side.

Cullen plays in a corner that hangs in the air.

However, Duffy is penalised, colliding with goalkeeper Yurchenko as he attempts to get his head on the ball.

Another chance for Ireland.

Hendrick plays a clever ball through for Ogbene.

The Rotherham man’s cross finds Robinson, who doesn’t get a proper connection on his finish, allowing the goalkeeper to parry it away.

Ireland are well on top at the moment.

Ogbene has been making a few clever runs and is causing the hosts’ defence plenty of problems.

As I type, Duffy gets on the end of a Cullen corner, but his header from quite far out goes well over.

The match has paused for the first water break of the game on what is a very hot day in Armenia.

Another water break is due around the 65th minute.

Decent spell of controlled possession from Ireland ends with Cullen winning a free-kick.

Aside from that five-minute spell early on, Armenia have offered very little in attack.

Parrott finds space down the left and his dangerous cross has to be parried away to safety by Yurchenko.

Ireland continue to probe but have been frustrated by the hosts’ defence so far.

Ireland have had 67% possession so far according to RTÉ.

However, they’re still finding it difficult to get past Armenia’s low block.

As I type though, Hendrick plays a through ball to Robinson.

The angle is too tight for him to shoot so he squares it to Ogbene, whose low effort from the edge of the area goes the wrong side of the post.

Robinson does well to get a cross in under pressure from the defender. It eventually falls to Parrott on the edge of the area, whose shot is curled just wide.

Moments later, a promising attack ends after Ogbene appears to be taken down by Haroyan just outside the box, but the referee waves play on.

So close!

A Cullen free-kick finds Ogbene totally unmarked, but his header goes inches over the bar.

The attacker will feel he should have done better there.

So it’s been an intriguing enough first half.

Armenia were on top for a brief spell early on, but Ireland have largely dominated and missed a couple of decent chances.

Ogbene has had some joy with runs in behind, while Hendrick has picked him out with a couple of incisive passes, but a lack of ruthlessness combined with some diligent Armenian defending has kept the game scoreless.

Stephen Kenny will know his side have been the superior team but may need to look at making changes as the Boys in Green search for that all-important opening goal.

The second half has begun…

Hambardzumyan puts in a dangerous low cross from the right.

Barseghyan gets to it at the near post, but Duffy is close by and his challenge does enough to put him off and his first-time finish from a tight angle goes well off target.

Barseghyan puts the ball in the net with a superb finish into the top corner but it’s rightly ruled offside.

Hambardzumyan, who provided the assist after a quick counter-attack, had strayed beyond the Irish backline as he initially collected the ball.

Down the other end, Robinson’s snapshot goes just wide.

It’s been a lively enough start to this second half.

Here’s a look at that Ogbene chance just before the break.

Barseghyan curls a brilliant effort that looks destined for the top corner just off target, as the home side go close again.

Armenia make their first change, with Adamyan replacing Bichakhchyan.

It feels like the momentum has shifted slightly in the hosts’ favour since the break.

Another substitution for Armenia.

Mkrtchyan replaces Hovhannisyan.

Coleman’s corner finds the head of Duffy, but he doesn’t get a great connection on it and it’s easily saved by the goalkeeper.

Moments later, Duffy is picked out again — this time by Stevens — but he can’t find the target with his header from a tight angle.

Ireland make a first change.

Parrott, whose influence has dwindled in the second half, is replaced by Obafemi, for his second cap and first since 2018.

Hendrick tries a shot from the edge of the area but it’s easily saved.

The game is opening up a bit, with more space to run into now as players from both sides tire.

Ogbene does well to find space down the right and escape his marker, but Mkoyan is in the right place to head away for a corner.

Double change now for Ireland — James McClean and Jason Knight replace Stevens and Robinson.

Armenia take the lead and it’s a brilliant goal.

Spertsyan tries his luck from well outside the area, having been given too much space by the Irish backline, and his thunderbolt goes in off the post.

Ireland make two more changes.

Alan Browne and Will Keane are on for Coleman and Cullen.

It looks like Ogbene will consequently switch to right wing-back in Coleman’s place.

Here’s a look at the opening goal…

Browne crosses to McClean but it comes off his hand as he tries to control it.

That sums up the visitors’ sense of frustration right now as they desperately search for an equaliser.

Jeff Hendrick hangs in a free-kick from the right but Egan can’t find the target with his header.

Just over three minutes of normal time to go.

Ogbene puts in a dangerous-looking cross but it’s just too heavy and it eludes everyone.

Ireland are really rallying now but it appears as if Armenia will hang on for the win.

There will be four minutes of stoppage time…

Ireland have reverted to hitting balls into the box now.

A couple of the Irish defenders have basically become makeshift centre forwards.

That’s another very disappointing result for Ireland.

It brings an end to an eight-game unbeaten run and they still have yet to win a match in Nations League history.

Ireland controlled possession for large spells and looked the better team for a large portion of the contest.

However, perhaps owing partially to the intense heat, they tired in the second half as more mistakes crept into their game.

Armenia, by contrast, defended manfully and took their goal extremely well, demonstrating the type of clinical finish that Ireland failed to produce during the contest.

Suddenly, the optimism built up from recent positive results has quelled to an extent and Wednesday’s clash with Ukraine becomes all the more important.

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have more reaction to follow shortly on the site.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy


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