YEREVAN (RTE)–Armenia claimed its first win in Euro 2012 qualifying Group B with an impressive victory over Slovakia in Yerevan in a major boost to the Republic of Ireland’s qualification hopes.
Yura Movsisyan gave the home side the lead after 23 minutes, but Slovakia equalised through Vladimir Weiss before half-time.
However, Armenia were not to be denied and Gevorg Ghazaryan put them back in front just five minutes after the break before Henrik Mkhitaryan made certain of the win a minute from the end.
Slovakia had come into the match on the back of two wins from their first two matches in the pool, but their first significant contribution to the game came on 18 minutes when Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel was booked for a foul on Movsisyan.
Armenia’s Karlen Mkrtchyan followed Skrtel into the referee’s notebook just moments later but the 7,500-strong crowd soon had something to celebrate with the opening goal.
Mkhitaryan’s ball from the right found Movsisyan in the area and he fired into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Armenia were not content to sit back on their lead and Mkhitaryan’s 25-yard free-kick was tipped over the bar by Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha.
Weiss, currently on loan at Rangers from Manchester City, had tried his luck from distance before having more luck from 12 yards in the 37th minute to get Slovakia back on level terms.
But parity lasted only five minutes after the interval as Ghazaryan had the simple task of turning Edgar Manucharyan’s cross into the net from close range.
Slovakia went in search of a second equaliser but Kornel Salata could only head Marek Hamsik’s free-kick straight at goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky.
And Mkhitaryan put the result beyond any doubt with Armenia’s third in the closing minutes to give them four points from three games.