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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 26 January 2021
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It’s do-or-die. Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland take on third-placed Armenia at the Aviva Stadium. Get in contact by emailing adrian@thescore.ie, find us on Facebook or tweet. Let’s do this.

Full-time: Ireland 2 Armenia 1

Good evening everyone and welcome to what will be… an eventful night at the Aviva Stadium, no doubt.

Tom Dunne is interviewing Marco Tardelli and Country & Western star Robbie Keane on the big screen, the team is warming up and the Armenians are starting to file in. It’s go time.

As Ireland seek a mere point to secure a play-off spot, one staff member here has already told me he’s back 3-1 to the visitors in the bookies. I’ve gone for a stress-free scoreless draw. How are you feeling out there in, computerland?

So this was the view from my seat when I landed in. That may or may be certain RTE pundits eating their pre-game chips on the live feed.

So we’re around 30 minutes from kick-off. Let’s have the teams – and more interestingly the Irish subs, eh?

Here’s the team, which we learned yesterday and prompted such debate since.

Ireland: Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Kelly, Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady, Doyle, Cox.

The bench looks like it has a few game-changers though…

Subs: Westwood, O’Dea, Coleman, Walters, Long, Hunt, Fahey.

The ‘n’ button on my keyboard is acting up and there’s a couple of spell-check busters in the Armenia side. Liam Brady in the RTE studio fancies Mkhitaryan and Pizzelli to make an impression here.

Chippy also admits to being very, very nervous. He’s not the only one tonight.

You may have notice we’re having some technical issues with twin liveblogs running at the moment. It’s been explained to me using the metaphor of the Ghostbusters crossing streams.

It’ll be sorted post haste.

Here’s the team-sheet, I’m not typing that out…

The teams are out on the pitch but the stadium is maybe half empty. Or half full depending on your point of view I suppose.

Mary McAleese is out on the pitch to meet the players. This could be the president and Trap’s last game!

But we’ll be okay won’t we? Won’t we?

Just saw a great flag hanging from one end of the stadium, depicting Richard Dunne in Soviet headgear with the tagline: The Iron Curtain.

I’d buy that t-shirt.

We’ve had the anthems and, dear me, the place has filled up quickly and found its voice. It’s go-time.

First bit of action is from Ireland; Cox and Duff combine neatly down the right but the Fulham man’s cross is over-hit.

Armenia get their first little sight on goal through the danger man – Mkhitaryan.

He scampers across the face the box and drags a shot wide of Shay Given’s goal.

A scuffed clearance from Sean St Ledger gives away a corner. Pizzelli wins another through an Andrews header but the third is cut out by Doyle at the front post.

Russia are gone one up though Dzagoev in Moscow. So it’s all set up for a memorable Andorran comeback.

Nice little passage from Ireland. Whelan wins it, Duff feeds an overlapping John O’Shea and his intercepted cross results in a corner.

The next phase of play results in Cox and then Doyle almost getting shots away inside the box. This isn’t bad.

Not to jinx anything but the excellent OptaJoe tweets:

The Republic of Ireland have not conceded a goal in 12 hours & 49 minutes of international football before tonight. Crunch

Phew! Given came a long way out to close down Movsisyan who was through on goal, though going wide. A less experienced keeper might have taken the player out and ended up sent off. Goal kick.

Funny old game. Roman Berezovsky is acting the goat after he was challenged, under a high McGeady cross, by Simon Cox.

The West Brom man turned the ball in and acted surprised when it didn’t count. We may have found our panto villain in the visitors’ goal.

Keeper has to be off here….

RED CARD! Berezovsky is off. Simon Cox was through on goal and in between the two centre halves. He tried to lob the keeper who was outside his box, but he handled it – allegedly.

Petrosyan is on and will face a free kick from the edge of the box.

McGeady flashes the free kick a foot over the bar. The Aviva Stadium crowd sit down for a bit.

So, where are we? There’s 30 minutes on the clock, a young Armenia side are down to 10 men in a game they have to win away from home, and Ireland are playing maturely, to use a favourite word of Trap’s.

To throw it away from here would be impressive.

In the meantime, Russia are 3-0 up on Andorra.

Pizzelli gets under shot away from outside the box but it curls wide. One of those nestling in the bottom corner would make it interesting.

How are we all feeling about Simon Cox’s inclusion now by the way?

GOAL! Ireland 1 Armenia 0 OG Valeri Aleksanyan

Well, they always said Trap was a lucky general.

First that sending off, and then they give Ireland a goal. Duffer drilled a cross in which Doyle tried unsuccessfully to back-heel (!) before the defender turned it in.

It’s a lot less tense here now, let me tell you. Those who streamed out early for a well-earned drink will have missed the Armenian sub keeper pick up a yellow card for a handball of his own.

There’ll be two minutes of added time.

So there goes the whistle for the break.

Let me know what you think while I cut the half-time oranges. Not a euphemism.

Which of you ordered the reality check? Our Saturday soccer colleague Miguel Delaney tweets:

Denmark beating Portugal… so could be Portuguese in play-offs. That would be just Ireland’s luck after using it up tonight.

We’re up and running, with 45 minutes and 10 Armenians between Ireland and those play-offs.

Cox did really well there to turn his man right on the endline, before teeing up Doyle. The Wolves striker drove his shot into an Armenian.

There’s been a lot of debate about the first-half sending off. This is the best pic I can find so far.

Harsh? And if so, do you care?

Ireland are really making the extra man tell now. After some lovely, crisp passing on the edge of the Armenia box, Stephen Kelly found himself through but he really didn’t fancy the shot and the danger is snuffed out.,

Andrews arrows one this much wide subsequetly.

One of our readers, Dave, has tweeted to explain that Doyler thought he was Darran O’Sullivan:


You may need to refresh for YouTube clips to embed

GOAL! Ireland 2 Armenia 0 Richard Dunne, 60 minutes

The first Oles of the night ring out, prompted by that goal by Dunne.

McGeady crafted it on the right with some nifty footwork. His cross was spilled by the sub keeper and Dunne bundled it in.

GOAL! Ireland 2 Armenia 1 Mkhitaryan, 62 minutes

Why is it never easy, Lord? Given lets Mkhitaryan’s strike under him at his near post. We have one hell of a half hour in store for you, folks.

You want to good news or the bad news, reader?

Bad news: Aiden McGeady just tried to toe-poke the ball tamely into the net as it yawned at him. Bah.

Good news: Stephen Hunt is on for McGeady.

Meanwhile, Our TheJournal colleague and my favourite mathlete Gav Reilly tweets: “Ireland went 851 minutes without conceding an international goal. It had to end sometime.”

Kevin Doyle will miss our next international  game – a play-off hopefully – as he’s booked.

There’s over 20 minutes left and it’s all Armenia, baby.

Keith Fahey is warming up on the little piece of real estate in front of the bench, by doing what can be described as the Mr Whippy. You know what I mean.

Ireland are on the ball and going forward for the first time in a while now. How are we all feeling?

File under ‘who cares’: Russia are five up on Andorra.

Kevin Doyle is penalised as he and the defender tumble. Jon Walters is warming up now; maybe he’d mix it up a bit at his stage.

In fact, he’s on for Cox, who’s played well. Will I get Fantasy Football points if Walters scores by the way?

RED CARD Kevin Doyle is sent off.

It’s 10 v 10 now, Bill.

Doyler picks up a second yellow for leading with the elbow under a high ball. His first was stupid. That was perhaps justified.

There’s around 10 minutes left and Armenia need two goals.

Stephen Hunt is in the thick of it. He first made a mess of a good chance and then wins a corner as the crowd demand a spotter after he goes through. Walters is the fulcrum of everything though.

Less than five minutes left. This is frantic stuff.

Armenia were on the march then after the ball surely crossed the sideline, Trap is freaking out – technical term – on the lino.

Walters is running riot since he came on. He’s just dragged a shot wide after Hunt played him through again. He doesn’t have any real support but is winning plenty of dirty ball as they say in another code.

The stadium has again found its voice, by the way.

Simon Cox wins man-of-the-match. Trap can feel smug.

As the PA announces the fact there’ll be four minutes of added time, the Armenians force a save from Given from close in. This is not ideal.

Surely that’s it, ref?

Full-time – the ref blows it up to more relief than joy.

There’s some remonstrations with the ref, Sean St Ledger and officials in the centre circle.

Marco Tardelli drags a few Armenians to their feet and offers a manly embrace in consolation.

So, it’s job done. You want proof? Here’s the final table:

The draw for the play-offs will be made on Thursday. The ties will be played on November 11 and 18.

It’s immaterial however, as Dunphy has just guaranteed Ireland won’t qualify. Do you agree?

Bosnia are 1-0 up on France with 44 minutes gone. That game will have a big bearing on our seeding or otherwise, so we’ll keep an eye on that.

Getting France again would be some laugh.

In the meantime, keep the comments coming, I’ll head down to see what Trap has to say for himself in a sec.

One last bit of house-keeping: Russia have won 6-0.

Dunphy’s on a roll all of a sudden:

“I feel offended by that soccer. You can’t love Barcelona and Arsenal and love that rubbish. The Irish rugby team would have done better out there.”

Dear me.

Okay, that’s all she wrote. I’m off to the press conference to leave Billo laughing at the panel and the last of the fans to file out. Check back later to read what Trap has to say on that crucial win.

Thanks for your company throughout.

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