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Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019
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Result: Armenia 0-1 Republic of Irelandย 

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Hello and welcome. This afternoon sees Ireland’s U21s continue their bid to qualify for the 2021 European Championships. 

Sitting top of Group 1 on 10 points from their first five matches, Stephen Kenny’s side are away to Armenia (kick-off 12pm).

Missing several first-team regulars, there are debuts at this level for Man City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, Stoke City defender Nathan Collins, Southampton defender Thomas O’Connor and Millwall full-back Danny McNamara. 

Ireland U21s team

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Kick-off – The home side, wearing red jerseys, shorts and socks, get us underway. Ireland are in their change strip of all white. 

The game is live on eirSport 1 by the way. 

2 mins – Ireland knocking the ball around well during the early stages, which results in them wining a corner. It’s a decent delivery, but the set pieces is cleared by an Armenian head. 

7 mins – Norwich City striker Adam Idah, leading the line today, shows good feet after collecting the ball, before spreading it wide. In the same attack, Ireland record their first shot as Connor Ronan curls an effort at goal from 25 years. It’s too close to Armenia goalkeeper Sevak Aslanyan, however. 

9 mins – Ireland earn another corner and Ronan whips it to the back post. The ball drops to Idah, but he’s snuffed out before getting a shot off. 

11 mins – It’s been a decent start for Ireland so far. The visitors have had a couple of free-kicks, which have been dealt with by the home side, but they look dangerous. 

18 mins – A couple of half-chances for Ireland as McNamara shoots tamely at goal from outside the box, allowing the Armenian keeper to get down and make the save. 

Minutes later, Idah gets onto a cross from the left but can’t direct his header on target. 

22 mins – Zack Elbouzedi looks to have the beating of his man, and is a threat every time he gets possession down Ireland’s left side. 

Ireland have another corner, which is taken by O’Connor. Collins goes for the ball, but the referee signals for a free-kick to Armenia. 

25 mins – Great work by Nahapetyan wins Armenia a free-kick, but it’s defended well. Ireland break immediately and Idah is then fouled just outside the box. Khachumyan picks up a yellow card for the late challenge.

26 mins – So close! O’Connor curls the free-kick in and Ireland captain Dara O’Shea is inches from making contact with is head. 

28 mins – Just as Armenia look to be finding their feet, Elbouzedi nicks possession and drives down the left flank. His low cross can’t find Idah in the centre, however. 

30 mins – Armenia began a counter-attack and Hovhannisyan’s cross has to be intercepted by a last-ditch tackle from O’Shea. Great positioning from the West Brom defender. 

32 mins – Best chance of the afternoon, and it’s fallen to Ireland. The ball drops for Jason Knight, who has time to pick his spot, but the Derby County midfielder is unable to hit the target. Should do better there. 

37 mins – Another brilliant opportunity for Ireland to open their account. Elbouzedi is free out wide, but cuts inside and forces Aslanyan into a decent save. 

39 mins – It’s all Ireland at the moment. Aslanyan punches away the resulting corner, and when the ball is fired back into the box, it drops to Collins. His connection isn’t great, and the Armenian stopper ensures the game remains scoreless. 

Moments later, Idah has a go but Aslanyan again saves. 

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Half-time: Armenia 0-0 Republic of Ireland 

 A solid opening 45 minutes all over the pitch from Ireland. Stephen Kenny will be happy enough with what has been a dominant performance so far. Better finishing and this game would already be wrapped up. 

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Second half – We’re back after the interval. No changes to report on either side. 

47 mins – Nice play involving O’Connor and Ronan down the left side sees a cross put over to the back post, where McNamara heads back across goal. Idah attempts to direct it on target, but can’t. 

53 mins – Ireland’s first yellow card has gone to Knight. Elbouzedi, again looking to create something, fires the ball into the Derby midfielder’s feet. Feeling a hand on his back, Knight goes down easy in the box and picks up a booking. 

57 mins -  Armen Nahapetyan, who has been lively for Armenia, is being stretchered off the pitch after appearing to roll his ankle.The number 10 has been replaced by Abraham Portugalyan. 

connor-ronan-with-hrachya-geghamyan Ireland's Connor Ronan with Hrachya Geghamyan of Armenia. Source: Hrach Khachatryan/INPHO

61 mins – Gavin Kilkenny is taken out by Hovhannes Harutyunyan and O’Connor takes the free-kick, which is headed behind for a corner. That’s half-cleared and Knight then shoots high and wide. 

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GOAL! Armenia 0-1 Republic of Ireland (Zack Elbouzedi 63) 

Ireland have finally broken the deadlock, and it’s no surprise who has scored it. Idah does really well to cut the ball back from the end line and Waterford winger Elbouzedi produces a clinical first-time finish. 

68 mins – Ireland looking to put this to bed with a second, and Idah drills well over the bar from 20 yards out. 

Armenia have made a second change, with Aram Khamoyan in for Harutyunyan. 

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RED CARD! Ireland captain Dara O’Shea has been sent off on 76 minutes. The Irish defence gets caught by a through ball and Karen Melkonyan runs clear. It looks like O’Shea clips his heels with the slightest of contact, and he’s off for an early bath. 

Kenny reacts by bringing on defender Liam Scales for Ronan as Ireland defend a free-kick. 

78 mins - Bichakhchyan’s free-kick strikes the wall and Ireland clear their lines. It will be backs to the wall for the remainder of this game. 

Armenia have just sent on Edgar Movsesyan for Armen Hovhannisyan as they chase an equaliser. 

81 mins – Gavin Kilkenny is off for Barnet midfielder Jack Taylor.

85 mins - Armenia have a shot from distance, which Bazunu is behind it all the way. 

A third Irish substitution sees Idah off for Aidan Keena. The Cork native hasn’t scored today, but he can be pleased with his performance. 

89 mins - The home side are pushing men forward in the hope of drawing level and Nazaryan heads over after a cross from the right. The clock is about to strike 90 minutes, so we don’t have left to play here. 

90 mins – Four minutes of additional time to play… 

92 mins - Bazunu has to tip a cross that’s heading for the top corner over, but collides with the post as he’s doing it. The 17-year-old has looked assured in place of Caoimhin Kelleher today. 

That’s it. A deserved three points for Ireland, who controlled the game from start to finish. There were a few nervy moments, however, due to the fact that they couldn’t extend their one-goal advantage. 

The Irish players had to be disciplined to see out the game after O’Shea’s sending off, but the win keeps them top of Group 1 on 13 points. 

Next up is a massive game against Sweden at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday evening. 

About the author:

Ben Blake

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