YEREVAN (AFP) - Ireland made a flying start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a gritty 1-0 win in their Group B opener against Armenia here on Friday.
Birmingham City midfielder Keith Fahey grabbed the decisive goal - his first in a senior international - in Ireland's first competitive fixture since France striker Thierry Henry's infamous handball in the World Cup play-off.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who made the long trip to Yerevan despite recently leaving hospital after undergoing a stomach operation, said he was pleased with the result.
"It was a difficult match that could have ended with another result - a draw," he said.
"It was very important for us to win this match and I think that our group's other favourites Russia and Slovakia can not be sure that they can clinch an easy win here in Yerevan."
Both teams, in their first ever meeting, set to work to claim the initiative right from kick off, trading threats in an attempt to expose each other's defensive frailties.
Ireland were the first to create a clear opportunity when in the eighth minute Spurs forward Robbie Keane missed the target with a 12-metre shot after Kevin Doyle fed him with a header.
The hosts replied with long-range shots by Karlen Mkrtchan and Levon Pachajan six minutes later but Ireland keeper Shay Given was in command of his net stopping the ball on both occasions.
The visitors upped the tempo and began peppering Roman Berezovsky's goal but to no immediate avail as the keeper denied both Sean Ledger and Glenn Whelan's attempts.
In the 35th minute Keane sent the ball into the net but his effort was disallowed because of an offside.
Shortly after the interval Armenia created a series of threats but Ireland responded with another Keane breakaway attempt in the 63rd minute but he could only hit the woodwork with a close-range unopposed shot.
In the 77th minute Fahey, a second half substitute in place of Aiden McGeady, finally broke the deadlock with a shot from close range after the home team's defenders failed to stop a cross into the box.
Armenia fought hard to try and find the equaliser but lacked the killer touch to leave Ireland celebrating an important three points away from home.
On later Group B action Russia are in Andorra, while Slovakia take on Macedonia in Bratislava.
|Coach: V. Minasyan|
for Artur Yedigaryan 68'
for Artak Yedigaryan 71'
for E. Malakyan 78'
|Mourinho tells Ronaldo: Team honours come first|
|Khedira returns to Juve training|
|Celtic v Qarabag: Champions League return of utmost importance, says Collins|
|Pellegrini: Jovetic had to go|
|Manquillo completes Marseille move|
|Schalke reject Juve´s Draxler bid|
|Blanc: Di Maria deal ´close´|
|Di Santo debut ends in stalemate|
|Fire sign Drogba, trade him to Montreal Impact|
|FIFA and UEFA welcome ruling on third-party ownership|
|Juve kick off title defence against Udinese|
|Stoke sign free agent Afellay|
|Benitez confident Ramos will stay|
|Fenerbahce issue warning to fans|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: De Boer confident Ajax are ready for Vienna test|
|Bility: I am the favourite for FIFA presidency|
|Pienaar to miss start of season|
|Vietnam 1 Manchester City 8: Sterling shines as tourists run riot|
|All-Star Keane relishing Spurs clash|
|Shaun Wright-Phillips joins brother Bradley at Red Bulls|
|Inter 0 Real Madrid 3: Rodriguez stunner caps comfortable win|
|Villa sign Ayew|
|Watford complete Berghuis transfer|
|Robben returns to Bayern training|
|Pulis anxious to make West Brom additions|
|David Luiz eager to welcome ´fantastic´ Di Maria|
|Fernando injury free ahead of new campaign|
|Hummels blames weight issues for poor season|
|Defoe hoping for early Sunderland goals|
|Depay hints at identity of ´surprise´ United striker|
|Tigres UANL v River Plate: Hosts look to bounce back and make history|
|Crespo set for Villa move|
|Terry: I would never join a Premier League rival|
|Van Gaal coy on United future|
|Romero to cover potential De Gea exit - Van Gaal|
|Uruguay win men´s football gold at Pan Am Games|
|Pirlo thanks New York City fans for ´beautiful´ welcome|
|Mexico capitalised on ´the mistakes we made´ - Schafer|
|Herrera delighted with Mexico display|
|MLS Review: Whitecaps build happy home, Pirlo debuts|
|Guardado wins Golden Ball at Gold Cup|
|NZF confirms Olympics disqualification appeal|
|Jamaica 1 Mexico 3: CONCACAF giants complete form turnaround|
|New York Red Bulls 2 Benfica 1: Another scalp for MLS side|
|Romero signs with United|
|Moghreb Tetouan 1 Al Hilal Omdurman 1: Visitors go top|
|Van Gaal rules out Ronaldo bid|
|Pique open to Barca captaincy|
|Pirlo makes MLS bow in thrilling NYC victory|
|Coutinho and Can return for Liverpool U21s|
|Walcott deal ´closer´, says Wenger|
|Arsenal 1 Wolfsburg 0: Walcott the match-winner in Emirates Cup finale|
|Di Santo links up with Schalke squad|
|Lukaku treble sinks Hearts|
|Benitez again refutes Ronaldo rift rumours|
|Pepe sure Ramos will stay at Real|
|City target De Bruyne named Germany´s Player of the Year|
|Montero spoils McCarthy´s Palace debut|
|Lyon 0 Villarreal 2: Soriano, Baptistao seal comfortable win in Emirates Cup|
|Wijnaldum on target as Newcastle are held|
|Mourinho: Rivals trying to buy the title|
|Jovetic set for Inter medical|
|RFS in ´denial´ over racism issue, claims Football Against Racism in Europe|
|Salah not staying at Chelsea - Mourinho|
|Mbemba closes in on Newcastle switch|
|Ibrahimovic: Di Maria will take PSG to another level|
|Delph: Don´t compare me to Pogba|
|Dundee United sign Sneijder|
|Morata relishing new-look Juve strikeforce|
|Strachan "not scared" of England after World Cup qualifying draw|
|Brazil claim football, basketball, handball gold in Toronto|
|Lampard´s debut delayed again, Pirlo ready to play|
|Mourinho open to Premier League matches in US|
|MLS Review: Texas unites to hurt Galaxy|
|Luis Enrique: United can emulate Barca revival|
|Van Gaal singles out Januzaj, hails United´s forwards|
|Blanc still hopeful PSG will sign Di Maria|
|Irish international Cunningham seeks Bristol City exit|
|Italy embracing Spain challenge in World Cup qualifying|
|Dos Santos brothers in doubt for Gold Cup final|
|PSG 1 Chelsea 1 (aet, 5-6 on penalties): Courtois clinches victory for Mourinho´s men|
|United States 1 Panama 1 (aet, 2-3 on penalties): Mejia denies hosts third|
|ES Setif 1 Al Merreikh 1: Sudanese deny title-holders at home|
|CONCACAF admit referee errors in Gold Cup semi-final|
|Dutch favourites in Group A - Deschamps|
|Barcelona 1 Manchester United 3: Rooney, Lingard and Januzaj maintain winning start|