Nations League live - Ireland 3 Armenia 2 (FT)

Analysis, clips and reaction from Ireland’s dramatic win

It was a mad game. Ireland were 2-0 up and cruising, conceded twice inside a minute only for a late handball, two red cards and a Robbie Brady penalty to hand Ireland a late victory.

Catch up on all the action as it happened, plus analysis, clips, reaction and match stats.




Ultimately, Ireland had 62 per cent possession, 18 total attempts (Armenia 4), and 572 completed passes (Armenia 262) - this was a complete cakewalk until it wasn’t, thanks to two bizarre minutes.

The most condemning stat? 18 total shots, only four on target. Armenia had three on target out of four total. Ireland needed more of a clinical edge. They survived, just about, but their profligacy could have led to a very different story.


At the risk of putting a dampener on tonight’s win, while we wait for Gavin Cummiskey’s report, catch up on how the U21s lost in an agonising penalty shootout to Israel, denying them a maiden European Championships appearance.


Just for good measure, here’s Brady’s winner from the spot. Not a lot of analysis to be done here, just a good strike that sends the ‘keeper the wrong way. Have to feel good for the man after his return to form earned a first Ireland start since March 2021.


Then the defining moment at the death, the handball penalty. It definitely hits Dashyan’s hand, but was he too close to the ball to have time to adjust and get out of the way? He and Harutyunyan were sent off for their, let’s say fervent protests.


Then there was the equaliser. Could Bazunu have done better given he got a hand to Spertsyan’s strike, again from deep? The jury is still out on that one, but what is for sure is it was a disastrous, underhit pass from Hourihane that gives the ball away.


Then there was the first for Armenia, Dashyan - later to be sent off - pulling one back with another ridiculous strike from distance. Ireland are far too lax defending the counter, allowing Armenia to cut through the middle. The initial shot from Bichakhchyan is actually well-saved by Bazunu, tipping it past the post at full-stretch, but he can do nothing about Dashyan’s first-time follow-up.


Let’s run through the second half goals. First off, Obafemi looked to have won it with yet another long-range screamer - into the same goal as his effort against Scotland. His first touch took the ball away from Haroyan and into the space to touch, but was it intentional or a heavy touch that he got away with? You decide...


What a ridiculous last 20 minutes or so of football that was. Ireland had this game won, dead and buried, Armenia hadn’t even fired a shot before two long-range stunners levelled things in the dying stages. Bazunu might have questions to ask for the second, but the first was well out of his control.

In response, Ireland thought they were denied a penalty, only for VAR to intervene well after the fact. Over the ref went to have a look at his screen before awarding Ireland the penalty for handball. Armenia went mad, protesting to no end, resulting in red cards for two players, Harutyunyan and Dashyan.

After what felt like an age of the referee trying to calm the Armenian players down, Brady sent Yurchenko the wrong way from the spot to send the Aviva crowd wild.


Fulll-time: Ireland 3 Armenia 2


90 mins: Ireland are just hoofing it long at any opportunity at this stage. Browne doesn’t though as Armenia play it through the middle. Robinson wins it back, feeding Browne and HE’S PUT IT WIDE! What a chance that was one-on-one with the ‘keeper.

Ireland 3 Armenia 2


Ireland need to hold out for five minutes of added time here. The man of the match is Michael Obafemi.


90 mins: Back in the starting XI for the first time in 18 months, Robbie Brady has surely scored the winner, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way from the spot.

Ireland 3 Armenia 2




The ball clearly hit an Armenian hand - Dashyan’s to be precise - off O’Shea’s shot, but the question is, is he too close to move it out of the way? The answer is NO! Ireland have a penalty as the referee points to the spot.

RED CARD! Hambartsumyan is shown two yellow cards for protesting. SO IS DASHYAN!!! Wow. The culprit of the handball is also shown a red for his protests. What is going on? At some point Ireland will have a penalty to win it...


Well, well, well. A good minute after the incident, the referee is heading to his monitor to check for handball after VAR intervenes...


86 mins: Ireland are screaming for a handball as the ball pinballs around the box from the corner. No penalty but that was an excellent ball in from Brady that deserved better.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


85 mins: Yurchenko has had a shocker in the Armenia goal. He catches a poor Doherty cross thinking it is already out so proceeds to walk over the line. It wasn’t and he’s only carried the ball out for a corner. Ireland make another change, Hogan is on for Obafemi.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


84 mins: Another foul sends the crowd into a frenzy as Obafemi is hauled down after a lovely touch to trap the ball. No card for Haroyan, to be fair, the ref is consistent in keeping his cards in his pocket.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


83 mins: You have to credit Armenia here, they are scrapping hard. Ireland have multiple chances to clear but are penned in only to relieve the pressure once Bayramyan’s shot flies wide.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


80 mins: Home fans always get on a referee’s back, but rarely to this level. Browne goes up for a header and wants a penalty for a push, nothing comes but then Hendrick is pinged for a shove of his own seconds later.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


79 mins: This time the decision does go Ireland’s way as Obafemi is chopped down after beating two men. Grigoryan is fortunate to not have his name taken. Meanwhile, the referee blows his whistle as Ireland take the free quickly, leaving Doherty to stop thinking the ball is dead. It in fact is not, Armenia clear and Ireland are not happy.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


78 mins: The crowd is not happy as Hourihane looked to have broken up a counter with a good challenge but it is called a foul. Definitely got the ball, but probably some of the man as well. A tight one.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


76 mins: Ireland should have scored. It’s a free header from yards out for Collins but he’s hit it straight at the ‘keeper. Hourihane then blazes over with the follow-up. Stephen Kenny has made two further changes, Browne and Robinson on for Knight and Parrott.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2


74 mins: Wow, just wow. First of all, Bazunu pulls off an excellent save to tip Bichakhchyan’s effort onto his post, but he’s powerless to stop a first-time effort from Dashyan from the edge of the area. Less than a minute later, Ireland are caught in possession deep in their own half and Spertsyan makes them pay with another long-range stunner. We’ve been treated to some spectacular goals in this one.

Ireland 2 Armenia 2






68 mins: Nathan Collins earns plenty of cheers with some nifty footwork down the right to beat two men on his way into the box. It ultimately comes to nothing, but a reminder nonetheless of the big man’s skill on the ball.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


67 mins: A tangle of bodies inside the Armenia box ends with Doherty nearly getting on the end of a Hourihane cross at the back post.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


65 mins: Strange one back at the Aviva as Khoren Bayramyan is booked for booting the ball away after it had gone out of play. Not like he has a lot of incentive for time wasting with the score the way it is...

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


In Tel Aviv, Israel’s ‘keeper has had a stormer, saving three penalties in the shootout to end Ireland’s hopes of reaching a first European Championships. Heartbreak for Jim Crawford’s side.


61 mins: Hendrick tries to follow Obafemi’s lead and lets fly from distance. He shared his ambition, not his accuracy.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


59 mins: Troy Parrot’s movement nearly leads to a chance but his shot is blocked for a corner. From the set-piece, Collins heads over at the near post.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


57 mins: Back in Dublin, this time Yurchenko is more authoritative, claiming a dangerous-looking cross that Parrot and Knight were eyeing up. Moments later, Collins lets fly from distance but fails to hit the target.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


Amidst the Obafemi madness, the news from Tel Aviv is that Ireland U21s have gone to a penalty shootout with Israel.


55 mins: A nervy moment for Yurchenko as he spills a Brady cross at the near post. He just about does enough to regather with Parrott lurking.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0


52 mins: He’s done it again. It’s not quite as magnificent as his effort against Scotland, but Michael Obafemi has scored another stunner. A heavy first touch actually worked for him as it took the ball away from the challenging Haroyan, opening enough space to let fly from 25 yards. Obafemi didn’t need to be asked twice, burying the ball into the bottom corner. What a strike.

Ireland 2 Armenia 0




First change for Ireland. Molumby is gone, in comes Conor Hourihane. Stephen Kenny doesn’t want to risk Molumby picking up a second yellow, which should already have come.


50 mins: O’Shea has a header at the back post from a Brady corner but it’s well wide, his marker doing just enough to put him off.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


48 mins: Jayson Molumby is a very lucky boy. Already on a yellow, the referee looked to be reaching for a second after the West Brom man hauled down Grigoryan on the counter. For whatever reason, the card stayed in the pocket.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


47 mins: Nearly a lovely piece of link up play between Hendrick and Doherty, only for the former’s first-time lay-off just to have too much on it as it rolls out of play.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


46 mins: Right then, here comes the second half. Ireland kick things off.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


Stats don’t always tell the full picture, but these ones do in the first half at the Aviva.

Ireland have had 63 per cent possession but only three attempts on goal. Tells you all you need to know about Ireland’s dominance that lacks a killer edge - so far.


Meanwhile over in Tel Aviv, Ireland U21s are into extra-time against Israel with the game still scoreless. Finn Azaz has had the best chance for Jim Crawford’s side.



Not a whole lot to write home about in terms of chances for Ireland, but they are good value for their lead. John Egan’s header separates the teams and he nearly got one just moments before, but apart from that Yurchenko has hardly been worked in the Armenian goal.

A lot of it is down to Armenia’s defence doing a good job of packing the box and time after time getting a body in the way of an Irish effort or attempted killer pass.

To their credit, Ireland’s press has been good and the odd incisive cross has looked like creating something. It will be a case of patience in breaking down this packed defence, which makes Egan’s set-piece header all the more important.


Half-time: Ireland 1 Armenia 0


44 mins: Yurchenko just had to be careful there as he very nearly catches the ball outside his box. It bounced his way after a mix-up in communication from Obafemi and O’Shea led to the latter launching forward a pass to no one. Obafemi’s frustrating evening continues.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


40 mins: Armenia get their first corner of the evening but Brady is on hand to head away the danger.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


39 mins: Collins shows off his ability to pick a pass with a gorgeous through ball that sends Hendrick into the box. The Reading man gets to the byline but yet again, Armenia get a block in.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


Here is that Egan goal that broke the deadlock.


35 mins: Doherty is in the middle this time as Hendrick is the one sending the ball in from the right flank. He is beaten to it by the ‘keeper Yurchenko but the ball finds Brady on the edge of the box. He volleys with his weaker right foot but yet again an Armenian body gets in the way.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


33 mins: This time Knight sees an effort deflected behind as his half-blocked ball to Parrott sits up straight back to him. Knight and Brady are causing plenty of problems down the left for Ireland.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


32 mins: Obafemi must be wondering what he has to do to get a decent chance as yet another cross - this one deflected - inches its way over his head. Doherty is behind him to let fly on the volley but his effort is blocked.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


29 mins: First yellow card of the night goes to Ireland after Molumby caught Zelarayán on the counter. He didn’t make that much contact but his studs were high.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


It’s ended scoreless in the U21 playoff between Ireland and Israel. Extra-time it is!


26 mins: Collins does well to deal with the threat of Zelarayan down the left despite his nimble footwork. He sets up a promising counter with Parrott taking over with Obafemi in space ahead, only for a clever foul to end the threat.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


25 mins: Better from Armenia as they string a few passes together inside the Ireland half. That is until O’Shea makes back-to-back successful challenges to clear.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


23 mins: Ireland threaten again down the left with Brady sending in a cross that is just over the head of Obafemi. The Swansea striker is getting plenty of ball into him but is just struggling with his first touch. To be fair, not every ball has been where he would have liked it.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


20 mins: Armenia look to hit back straight away with a free-kick from deep into the box. Out comes Bazunu to comfortably claim the ball in from Barseghyan.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0


18 mins: This time Egan gets his goal from the corner! Brady whips the ball in from the right and the Ireland captain rises highest to head the ball into the bottom corner.

Ireland 1 Armenia 0




17 mins: Brilliant work from Doherty down the right to skip past two defenders before teeing up Knight. He’s haring across the six-yard box to get to the ball first but his goalward effort is blocked well.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


15 mins: Chance! From the corner Dara O’Shea’s header across the face of goal fizzes towards John Egan. The skipper tries to strain his neck to make contact on the ball travelling behind him but he can’t get his header on target.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


14 mins: Brilliant vision from Brady to spot Parrott pop free right on the edge of the box. He works past one defender before Mkoyan works back to concede a corner.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


11 mins: Chance! That’s the closest Ireland have come to opening the scoring. Knight does very well to step inside onto his right to cross, but it’s just a touch high for Obefemi who can’t control his header from six yards. He misses the target as a result.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


10 mins: Molumby takes a tumble on the edge of the area after a lovely dummy from Obafemi but referee Obrenovic turns away the appeals. Brightest Ireland attack so far.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


7 mins: Obafemi wins the ball high up the pitch but neither he nor Hendrick can play in Parrott who had a clear run to goal. Hendrick does try to work a chance on the edge of the area but Armenia skipper Haroyan makes a good sliding challenge.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


6 mins: First shot of the evening comes from Collins but he’s blasted it over from the edge of the area. A lovely crossfield ball to Doherty allowed him to send Hendrick to the byline. His cut-back found the Wolves man only for the first-time effort to stray high and wide.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


5 mins: Robbie Brady swings a ball in from the left for the first time but it’s cleared before Doherty can get to it at the back post. Ireland are doing a good job of penning Armenia inside their own half but have yet to create a chance.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


3 mins: Ireland’s press works an opportunity for Obafemi to pull the trigger from the edge of the area but he just can’t get the ball out from under his feet.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


2 mins: Ireland’s midfield trio is dominating possession at the moment, linking nicely with Michael Obafemi in particular. As expected, thought, Armenia are playing very deep and not offering any space in behind.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


1 min: We are underway! Armenia playing in red start with possession but Jason Knight and Jayson Molumby quickly win it for Ireland in midfield.

Ireland 0 Armenia 0


Anthems are done and it’s almost time for kick-off. Will Ireland secure the point they need to avoid Nations League relegation? We’re about to find out...


Here come the teams for the senior team in Dublin. We’ll be focusing on the action in the Aviva but will keep an eye out for goals in Tel Aviv.


10 minutes have gone in the second half of Ireland U21s vs Israel in Tel Aviv. It remains 0-0 with the home side looking the more threatening.

Ireland have just made a change, MK Dons’ Dawson Devoy coming on for Joe Hodge.


Ireland manager Stephen Kenny’s thoughts ahead of kick-off.


“We used to joke, if you’ve guards with guns beside you then you are either famous or a wanted man.”

—  Former Armenia manager Tom Jones on his time in Yerevan

Tom Jones coached Armenia once upon a time. During the week, Gordon Manning caught up with him to discuss his time with tonight’s opponents, as well as his friendship with Sunderland legend Ian Porterfield, who lured him to Yerevan in the first place.


It’s half-time in Tel Aviv and neither side has opened the scoring as of yet.

During the half-time break, we’ll continue the build-up to the senior game with Irish Times soccer correspondent Gavin Cummiskey’s preview. He was impressed with Nathan Collins’ maturity as he spoke to the press in recent days.


Lest we forget, the Ireland U21s are currently in action in Israel as they seek a win in their playoff second leg to reach the European Championships. It’s coming up on half-time in Tel Aviv, no goals but Derry City ‘keeper Brian Maher has just saved a one-on-one chance to keep Ireland level.



First things first, here is the Ireland team. Stephen Kenny has made two changes to the side that lost to Scotland, one of them enforced with Josh Cullen ruled out through suspension. Jeff Hendrick comes in to replace him. Robbie Brady ends his international exile - since March 2021 - in the other change. He replaces James McClean at left wing-back.

It’s an especially poignant return to the team for Brady, who has hopped from club to club in the last year in search of form and an extended run of fitness. His start is just reward for his start to the season with new side Preston North End.