Armenia climbed 3rd in EURO 2012 Group B qualification round

The next qualifier will be played against Russia in March 2011.

The next qualifier will be played against Russia in March 2011.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia scored glorious victories over Slovakia and Andorra in EURO 2012 qualifiers on October 8 and 12, 2010.

On the threshold of the match vs. Slovakia, chief coach Vardan Minasyan said: “Slovaks are organized and self-disciplined. We must employ short passes and show a good football, although we will play without Edgar Malakyan, Aghvan Mkrtchyan and David Manoyan.”

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss commented: “We try to win each match. We respect the rivals who were defeated by Ireland and played in a draw with Macedonia. Armenians are quick and have good halfbacks.”

Slovakia midfielder Miroslav Stoch voiced opinion that the match against Armenia will not be an easy one. “Our team has 6 points as of today and it would be great if we could gain 6 more points. We want to win but I don’t know what to expect from Armenian players, they are dangerous. Ireland scratched a 1:0 victory in Yerevan while the match with Macedonia ended in a draw,” he said.

“It does not matter with which team we are playing. We will try to avoid mistakes in the match with Slovakia, as any mistake might be a decisive one, as was the case in the match vs. Macedonia,” Armenian defender Hrayr Mkoyan said commenting on the upcoming match

Another defender, Artak Yedigaryan, said they familiarized themselves with the rival’s style and are ready for the match. “Unfortunately, we gained only one point in the two matches, but we will try to improve the situation in the upcoming matches vs. Slovakia and Andorra,” he said Yedigaryan.

According to midfielder Karlen Mkrtchyan, Armenia stood a chance to improve their group results.

Hopes have justified. Second-half goals from Gevorg Ghazaryan and Henrik Mkhitaryan secured a sensational 3-1 win for Armenia. The visitors had begun the day as joint-leaders of Group B following last month's win in Russia but they fell behind to Yura Movsisyan's 23rd-minute opener. Vardan Minasyan's team made the early running though the first clear scoring chance fell to Slovakia. Miroslav Stoch won a free-kick near the byline and from his cross Martin Skrtel won the aerial duel with goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky but headed just wide. Armenia's first effort of note came after 20 minutes when Marcos Pizzelli fired just wide of the right post and the same player was the architect of the opening goal three minutes later. His gorgeous through pass put Movsisyan one-on-one with Jan Mucha and the Armenia forward calmly shot through the goalkeeper's legs. Mkhitaryan almost made it two soon after but Mucha was equal to his fierce free-kick. The goal clearly affected Slovakia, but they gradually recovered their stride and after Weiss had narrowly missed the top-right corner from distance, he made no mistake with his second opening. With 37 minutes played, the Slovakia coach's son and namesake received the ball in the area, beat two defenders and fired past Berezovsky from close range. Within five minutes of the restart, however, Armenian were back in front. Mucha could only parry substitute Edgar Manucharyan's attempt and Ghazaryan drilled home from close in. Slovakia stepped up the tempo as they sought a second equalizer, but the Armenians still carried a threat on the counterattack. Movsisyan had a free-kick saved by Mucha, while Ghazaryan failed to score in a one-on-one situation. The final word went to Mkhitaryan with a minute remaining.

Commenting on the results, Vardan Minasyan said, “We have surpassed our rival in all aspects. Now we believe we can do more.”

“It is not just a victory, we showed a nice football. I think we stand a good chance to improve our place in the group,” Yura Movsisyan noted.

The match against Andorra was also impressive. Armenia secured a powerful 4-0 win, scoring three goals in the first half and adding one more after the break. Gevorg Ghazaryan’s fourth-minute lead was Armenia's 100th goal since the country gained independence. Henrik Mkhitaryan made it 2-0 in the 16th minute, Yura Movsisyan then volleyed in Sargis Hovsepyan's cross from the right in the 33rd and was replaced in the 53rd minute, right after Marcos Pizzelli made it 4-0.

“Our footballers demonstrated professionalism and fulfilled all tasks,” Vardan Minasyan said after the match.

Andorra coach Koldo Alvarez expressed his discontent saying, that his team showed the worst game.

Thus, Armenia climbed 3rd in Group B, gaining 7 points. Russians, whom Armenia will rival in March 2011, top the standings with 9 points.

Gohar Nalbandyan, Hasmik Babayan
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