14.11.2019 at 15:00 FFA Academy Stadium, Yerevan
Referee: Antti Munukka (FIN)
Sevak Aslanyan (GK),
Rudik Mkrtchyan (C).
Thomas O Connor
Danny Mc Namara
Dara O Shea
Elbouzedi's strike secure Armenia victory
Republic of Ireland secured an impressive 1-0 victory over Armenia in Yerevan thanks to Zack Elbouzedi's second-half strike.
Ireland finished the game with ten-men after Dara O'Shea was sent off in the second-half but the away side held on in the closing stages to stay top of Group One.
Stephen Kenny gave four players their U-21 debut for the match. Thomas O'Connor, Nathan Collins, Danny McNamara and goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu all made their debut as Ireland dominated the vast majority of the contest.
The first major chance of the game came in the 18th minute as Gavin Kilkenny found Connor Ronan in space on the left who crossed for Adam Idah, but his glancing header went narrowly over the bar.
Eight minutes later, Ireland were inches away from opening the scoring as O'Connor's right-sided free-kick was whipped into the six-yard area but O'Shea was unable to reach the ball as it went past the far-post.
The best chance of the first-half came just after the half-hour as the quick-thinking Elbouzedi intercepted the keeper's lofted clearance and after he headed it down for Ronan, Jason Knight was in on goal but fired narrowly wide.
The chances were beginning to flow for Stephen Kenny's side and should have been ahead at the break. In the 37th minute, a fantastic tackle from Collins lead to a counter-attack with Elbouzedi and after the winger cut inside, his low effort was somehow palmed away.
From the resulting corner, Armenia failed to clear at the first attempt and the ball fell for Collins in the six-yard area but his shot was also saved.
The pressure continued in the second-half. Six minutes after the break, once again, Elbouzedi was involved as he engineered an angle on the left but his deflected cross somehow crawled past the mouth of the goal and away to safety.
Ireland finally got the break-through in the 63rd minute. The impressive Knight won the ball back high up the pitch, played the industrious Idah down the line and his cross was dummied by Ronan to find Elbouzedi. Elbouzedi collected the ball and smashed home to finally give Ireland the lead they deserved.
Ireland continued to look dangerous until the 76th minute when Dara O'Shea was shown a straight red card for his last-ditch tackle on Vahan Bichakhchyan. Despite the red card, Ireland remained composed and held out to claim an important three points as they remain top in Group One.
"I'm delighted with the manner of performance. We handed four debuts in the starting line-up and Aidan Keena came off the bench to make his debut as well," said Kenny.
"To produce the real team performance we've produced with the short amount of time we've had to work with the team, I'm delighted and the players should be really proud of themselves.
"It's an important victory in the campaign and now it's important for us to refocus on the Sweden game on Tuesday to make sure we can get another important result in front of a big crowd at Tallaght Stadium."
Armenia: Sevak Aslanyan (GK), Hrachya Geghamy, Hovhannes Nazaryan, Albert Khachumyan, Edgar Grigoryan, Karen Melkonyan, Hovhannes Harutyunyan (Aram Khamoyan 67), Armen Haovhannisyan, Armen Nahapetyan (Abraham Portugalyan 57), Vahan Bichakhchyan, Rudik Mkrtchyan (C).
Subs not used: Mark Grigoryan (GK), Erik Vardanyan, Davit Nalbandyan, Arsen Sadoyan, Hakob Khachatryan, Edgar Movsesyan, Armen Asilyan.
Republic of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu (GK), Danny McNamara, Dara O'Shea (C) (Liam Scales 76), Conor Coventry, Zack Elbouzedi, Adam Idah (Aidan Keena 86), Connor Ronan, Jason Knight, Nathan Collins, Gavin Kilkenny (Jack Taylor 81), Thomas O'Connor.
Subs not used: Conor Kearns (GK), Kameron Ledwidge, Corey O'Keefe, Danny Grant, Dan Mandroiu, Simon Power.
Referee: Antti Munukka (FIN)