Euro 2012 qual. - Fahey gives Ireland opening win

Eurosport - Fri, 03 Sep 17:57:00 2010

Ireland made a winning start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign courtesy of substitute Keith Fahey's goal in a frantic 1-0 victory in Armenia.

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Giovanni Trapattoni's side looked to have blown their chance of picking up three points when skipper Robbie Keane hit a post from six yards out on 62 minutes before Fahey struck in a sticky Yerevan.

Birmingham City midfielder Fahey replaced Aiden McGeady on 68 minutes before displaying considerable composure to finish low into the corner of a net as the ball broke to him from Liam Lawrence's pass to Keane.

Armenia piled on the pressure in the closing minutes, but the visitors weathered some several probing attacks to pocket a vital win in the Group B meeting.

Richard Dunne took his place in the centre of defence alongside Sean St Ledger with John O’Shea and Kevin Kilbane occupying the full-back positions.

Ireland began brightly and Keane blew a golden chance on seven minutes when he volleyed wide from 12 yards out.

Armenia seemed content to play on the counter attack, but were thankful to their goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky on 21 minutes as he clawed St Ledger's header out from under his bar.

McGeady, playing his first game since his 9.5million switch from Celtic to Spartak Moscow, was next to try his luck with a run and shot that drifted wide of the target.

Keane had the ball in the net on 35 minutes, but he was deemed to be offside from Glenn Whelan's quick free-kick.

Armenia remained a thorn in the side of Ireland defenders Dunne and John O'Shea and Yura Movsisyan hammered in an effort from distance on 41 minutes that flew just over the Ireland bar with Shay Given struggling.

The play raged from end to end. Artur Edigaryan failed to get a shot away from five yards out and Dunne almost headed into his own net in between Keane nudging a post with a shot after beating Berezovsky from six yards out.

Fahey provided the moment Ireland craved seconds after Berezovsky had blocked a mazy run and drive by Doyle.

The substitute cut a cool figure as the ball broke to him from Keane's blocked attempt 15 minutes from time as he converted with some style.

Ireland were forced to defend stoutly in the death throes of the match as Armenia piled bodies forward, but the visiting side had done enough.

The Republic are now unbeaten in their last nine away matches, including six draws.

Ireland face Andorra in their second qualifying match in Dublin on Tuesday in a section that also includes Slovakia, Russia, Macedonia and Armenia.

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