Football | Late Brady penalty sees Ireland survive Armenia scare
Updated: Sep 28
Robbie Brady scored a stoppage-time penalty to earn a 3-2 victory for the Republic of Ireland against Armenia in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday night.
The result at the Aviva Stadium confirms both Ireland's safety in League B and Armenia's relegation to League C.
The Boys in Green had taken a two-goal lead, with John Egan and Michael Obafemi scoring either side of the break to put Stephen Kenny's hosts in a commanding position.
However, Armenia - inspired by a double substitution - scored twice in two minutes to draw level in the second. Artak Dashyan pulled one back for Joaquín Caparrós' visitors in the 71st minute, before Eduard Spertsyan restored parity soon afterwards.
Ireland were awarded a late penalty after a VAR consultation, which Brady slotted into the bottom corner to seal a much-needed win for Kenny's men.
Kenny made two changes from the team which lost 2-1 to Scotland last week, with Brady and Jeff Hendrick coming into the side in place of James McClean and Jeff Hendrick.
Brady, making his first international start since March 2021, was named at left-wing back, with Matt Doherty operating on the opposite flank, and captain Egan being joined by Collins and Dara O'Shea in the heart of defence.
Hendrick joined Jayson Molumby and Jason Knight in midfield, with Obafemi and Troy Parrott leading the line for the home side.
Armenia manager Caparros rang the changes for his team's visit to Dublin, making five alterations to the side beaten 5-0 at home by Ukraine.
Ireland bossed the possession in the opening stages and had their first sight of goal when Obafemi headed Knight's cross over in the 11th minute.
Kenny's side looked threatening from corners, with O'Shea heading a Brady cross dangerously back across goal towards Egan in the 14th minute.
The hosts made the breakthrough from a set piece three minutes later, with Egan peeling away on the edge of the six-yard box to direct a powerful header into the net from Brady's pinpoint corner.
Armenia struggled to get out of their half or create any sort of pressure as Ireland controlled possession without creating a multitude of chances.
Wolves defender Collins was showcasing his ball-playing abilities, stepping out of defence and catching the eye with his distribution. One clever pass found Brady in the 38th minute, but the Dubliner's shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Ireland ended the half with 63% possession but just three shots on goal, with their play in the final third lacking, a familiar issue under Kenny.
There were no changes at half time, but Molumby was fortunate to escape a second yellow early in the second half after a cynical foul to deny Armenia a counter-attack.
Set pieces continued to look like Ireland's most dangerous attacking threat, with O'Shea forcing Armenia goalkeeper David Yurccornerhenko into a routine save from another Brady corner in the 50th minute.
Soon afterwards, Kenny elected to replace Molumby with Conor Hourihane.
Ireland doubled their lead in the 52nd minute, with Swansea striker Obafemi producing another excellent strike in the green jersey.
Obafemi controlled O'Shea's fine pass on the turn, before rifling a low strike into the bottom corner from 25 yards to make it 2-0, much to the delight of the home crowd.
The Boys in Green continued to threaten, with Collins marauding forward and seeing a shot go just the wrong side of the post in the 57th minute.
However, the visitors turned the game on its head in. the 71st minute.
Dashyan pulled one back for Joaquín Caparrós' side, applying a finish after Gavin Bazunu had tipped Vahan Bichakhchyan's initial strike onto the post.
Two minutes later, Spertsyan seized on a poor Conor Hourihane pass before firing a brilliant strike past Bazunu to make it 2-2.
Ireland nearly restored their lead five minutes later from another excellent free kick from Brady, but Collins' header was straight at the 'keeper, and Hourihane couldn't keep the rebound down from 10 yards.
Alan Browne and Callum Robinson replaced Parrott and Knight with 15 minutes remaining as Ireland struggled to reassert their earlier dominance, with Scott Hogan then coming on for Obafemi in the 86th minute after the Swansea forward picked up a knock.
Stephen Kenny's hosts pushed for a winner in the dying minutes and were awarded a penalty in stoppage time after Armenia goalscorer Dashyan blocked O'Shea's goalbound effort with his hand.
Armenia were then reduced to nine men for their heated protests, with Dashyan and Hovhannes Hambartsumyan both shown second yellows in the ensuing drama.
Brady calmly slotted the penalty into the bottom corner past David Yurccornerhenko.
Obafemi was announced as man-of-the-match as the Boys in Green had to survive five minutes of additional time.
Hogan spurned a good chance to extend Ireland's lead, but Ireland had to settle for a 3-2 win and League B survival.
It was a dramatic end to a mixed Nations League campaign for Kenny's side, who will now turn their attention to the 2024 European Championships.