After a hiccup in their last fixture against Iceland, the Ireland U21 side got things back on track in Armenia this afternoon. The 1-0 scoreline may not look all that impressive, but that certainly doesn't tell the full story of the game.
This was a dominant performance from Ireland for much of the 90 minute and they should have held a sizeable lead at halftime. Stephen Kenny's side squandered a number of golden chances in the opening period, although Zack Elbouzedi would score the winner in the second half.
Armenia applied the pressure late on after Dara O'Shea was sent off for Ireland, but they would emerge with a deserved three points.
When you consider the personnel who were unavailable for this one, the win looks even more impressive. Troy Parrott is on duty with the senior side, while Jayson Molumby and Lee O'Connor missed out due to suspension. Conor Masterson, Caoimhin Kelleher and Darragh Leahy were unavailable because of injury injury, meaning Kenny was without half of his first choice XI.
Speaking to the FAI after the game, he said his team showed great character to emerge with three points.
🎥 | "We had a lot of changes but the team have come together over a short period of time to produce a fantastic performance..." 🙌#IRLU21🇮🇪 boss Stephen Kenny delighted with ten-men Ireland as they secure important victory over Armenia 👌#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/dubvpbbHN1
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) November 14, 2019
I'm very pleased with the win. The players really worked hard for each other today, there was a real sense of team.
We had a lot of changes from the previous game, three of the back four making their debuts, the goalkeeper making his debut.
When you're putting them together over a couple of days, because you don't have much time for preparation due to the Thursday kick-off. The fact that they were so composed, they did very well.
We had a high pressing game and Armenia struggled to live with that. We created a lot of chances, some great chances that we just couldn't take.
You think it might not be your night, but persistence is important and we kept going.
Ireland will now host Sweden on Tuesday, a game which could go a long way to deciding their fate in this group. They managed to come away with a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture and will be hoping for a repeat of that result.
O'Connor and Molumby will be back for that one, although Dara O'Shea will be suspended after his sending off this afternoon. Stephen Kenny is hoping a sizeable crowd make their way to Tallaght as Ireland attempt to continue their strong record at the ground.
We've been outstanding in the campaign. We've lost Dara O'Shea for Tuesday, Nathan Collins got a knock but I think he's ok.
It's a big game on Tuesday. It would be great to have a big crowd for the game against Sweden. They've had a big result recently, so we've got to build momentum again and take that into the game on Tuesday.
It's a home game for us in Tallaght, it's been brilliant there so far. We haven't conceded a goal, a full house against Italy, beat Luxembourg and Armenia there, they've been great games. We look forward to going there on Tuesday.