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Ireland 3-2 Armenia

Hello and welcome to this evening’s liveblog.

It feels like another important night for Stephen Kenny and Ireland.

There were encouraging aspects of the performance against Scotland at the weekend but that was not reflected by points on the board.

As a result of that loss and some disappointing results earlier in the campaign, tonight, they must either win or draw with Armenia to avoid relegation from the Nations League.

The visitors were well beaten 5-0 by Ukraine at the weekend, with manager Joaquín Caparrós coming under significant pressure as a result, though they will take some confidence from the fact they earned a 1-0 win over the Boys in Green in Yerevan last June.

So it’s fair to say both sides are in desperate need of a positive result to finish their respective indifferent campaigns on a high.

stephen-kenny-michael-obafemi-and-troy-parrott Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrott. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Who do you think will win?

Poll Results:

Ireland (418)
Draw (103)
Armenia (68)

PARALLAX. I NEVER EXACTLY understood. There’s a priest. Could ask him.

So one went a sliver of one of Leopold Bloom’s interior monologues in Ulysses, wondering about the meaning of a phenomenon whereby the position of a fixed point can look different depending on the angle from which it’s viewed.

Were he around today, Bloom could have asked Nathan Collins to explain it.

You can read Gavin Cooney’s full match preview here.

Confirmation of the Irish team below…

Some thoughts from Stephen Kenny ahead of the game…

Here’s a sample of what former Ireland international Damien Delaney is saying on Virgin Media…

alan-byrne Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Irish team doctor Alan Byrne is pictured above. It’s his last game tonight having been part of the Irish set-up as far back as the late ’90s, while his first match with the senior team was in the Brian Kerr era way back in February 2004.

Ireland have seen loads of the ball early on and are being patient in their build-up.

Nathan Collins has just made a good run down the right so they’re certainly not afraid to get bodies forward.

Hendrick lays it back to Collins on the edge of the area but the defender’s attempt is well off target.

This might be a night where Ireland have to show patience, as Armenia have been very conservative so far.

Ireland create their first real chance of the match.

Jason Knight crosses for Michael Obafemi, whose header is just wide.

It was at an awkward angle for the Swansea striker as he was going backwards as he made contact with the ball.

Brady finds Parrott with a low cross.

The Preston loanee eludes a few players before he’s tackled and it goes out for a corner.

From the ensuing set piece, Brady’s ball in is met by O’Shea, whose header takes a slight deflection off Egan and goes wide.

Good run by Doherty down the right.

His cross finds Knight, whose volley is deflected wide.

Ireland deservedly take the lead.

Brady hangs a corner in and John Egan rises highest and heads into the corner.

That’s two set-piece goals in two games for the Sheffield United man.

Ireland break again but Hendrick overhits a pass towards Obafemi and the move breaks down.

Armenia have been poor so far — if they keep playing like this, it could be a rare comfortable evening for Stephen Kenny’s side.

In case anyone is wondering about the Irish U21s’ vital Euros playoff with Israel, it’s gone to extra time.

You can follow it in a separate liveblog here.

Molumby has just been booked for a mistimed challenge on Zelarayan.

The energy has gone out of this game a bit since the opening goal.

Knight has just seen a shot inside the area deflected wide.

Ireland are well on top and could win this game easily if they play with any real conviction.

john-egan-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-first-goal-with-jason-knight Ireland's John Egan celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Jason Knight. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Hendrick tries to slip through the onrushing Doherty but the pass is intercepted.

Moments later, the Reading loanee’s attempted cross is blocked out for a corner.

The final ball could be better from Ireland at times.

Brady has just lofted a cross straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Hendrick plays a good ball to Parrott, but the striker can’t find an Irishman with his cross.

In recent minutes, Armenia are starting to get a few more players forward and enjoy spells of possession in Ireland’s half, but Bazunu has been a virtual bystander so far.

So half-time and Ireland deservedly lead.

It was a great header from Egan, with the Boys in Green clearly not missing Shane Duffy in an attacking sense from set pieces at least.

Armenia have looked like a demoralised team — they have offered almost no threat going forward and it’s hard to see a way back into this game for them unless something radical changes at half-time.

The hosts have dominated without creating a host of chances — the final ball has let them down at times, while it’s obviously quite challenging to break their opponents down, given how many players Armenia routinely have in their own penalty area.

Yet if the match continues in the same pattern after the break, it’s difficult to imagine any scenario other than a comfortable Irish win.

Armenia are playing with a bit more ambition in this half and putting more bodies forward.

Meanwhile, Molumby needs to be careful — he is penalised for dragging back an opponent, but the referee opts not to issue him a second yellow card fortunately for the Irish youngster

As I type, a Brady corner is headed wide by O’Shea. 

Meanwhile, the Ireland U21s match has gone to penalties.

You can follow it here.

A superb goal from Michael Obafemi to double Ireland’s advantage.

An incisive pass from O’Shea sets it up. The striker receives the ball about 30 yards out, takes a touch to beat his man and fires a powerful effort into the corner.

Nathan Collins has attempted a pot shot from the edge of the area that goes wide.

Ireland are looking comfortable now.

Brady’s corner finds Collins but the defender can’t direct his header on target.

Armenia make a double substitution — Mkoyan is replaced by Hakobyan and Monroy comes off for Dashyan.

Forgot to mention Ireland made a change just before the goal — Hourihane came on for Molumby, with Kenny clearly worried about the latter potentially getting himself sent off.

Some unfortunate news from Tel Aviv.

Ireland U21s’ Euro dreams are over, as they’ve been beaten by Israel on penalties.

Another change for Armenia — Zelarayan is replaced by Bichakhchyan.

Ireland remain well on top and another goal or two before the final whistle would not flatter them.

Remarkably, Armenia are level.

Out of nothing, Armenia are back in this game.

Dashyan slots home after an initial shot is saved by Bazunu.

Moments later, Hourihane plays a poor pass straight to Spertsyan who curls it home superbly.

Two changes for Ireland — Knight and Parrott and replaced by Browne and Robinson.

Moments before that, Collins’ header from Brady’s free-kick was saved before Hourihane fired over on the rebound.

Good run by Obafemi who is then cynically taken out by Grigoryan.

He’s been one of Ireland’s best players tonight.

Here’s a look at two of the last three goals…

More changes for Armenia.

Calisir and Barseghyan are replaced by Muradyan and Shaghoyan.

Another substitution for Ireland.

Obafemi is replaced by Hogan.

Remarkable stuff!

A penalty is awarded after a VAR check, as O’Shea’s goalbound effort comes off an Armenian hand.

Two of the visitors’ players are then sent off for protesting.

Brady sends the goalkeeper the wrong way with his penalty.

Five minutes of stoppage time will be played as nine-man Armenia try to rescue this game.

Obafemi has been named man of the match.

That feels like the right call, even aside from his spectacular goal, he’s been impressive.

Robinson slips through Hogan but he puts it wide from a tight angle.

That would have been the icing on the cake.

So that’s that — Ireland have avoided Nations League relegation with Armenia instead dropping down to the competition’s third tier.

It was a pretty extraordinary finish to what was, for large spells, an unremarkable game.

The hosts were coasting and well worth their 2-0 lead before an expected second-half collapse that saw them concede twice in three minutes, with some fine Armenian finishing combined with sloppy errors from the Boys in Green.

Yet the Irish side ultimately won it with a late penalty — as Robbie Brady celebrated his return to the starting lineup with a pivotal goal — with the decision to award the spot kick angering the visitors to the extent that two of their players were sent off for vehement protesting.

Ireland played well for a lot of this match, but as with the Scotland game on Saturday, it still feels like they are a work in progress given how they almost dramatically threw away the win tonight.

Here’s a look at the winning goal and the drama that preceded it…

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have more reaction to come shortly.

Gavin Cooney
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