Birmingham City midfielder Keith Fahey gave the Republic of Ireland a flying start to their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaign as his decisive strike gave them a gritty 1-0 win in their Group B opener against Armenia today.
In the first ever meeting between the two sides, Ireland were the first to create a clear opportunity when, in the eighth minute, Tottenham Hotspur forward Robbie Keane missed the target after Kevin Doyle fed him with a header.
Shay Given was tested with long-range shots from Karlen Mkrtchan and Levon Pachajan six minutes later but the Ireland keeper was up to the task on both occasions.
The Republic upped the tempo after that with Sean Ledger and Glenn Whelan both having attempts on goal, but neither could find the target while, in the 35th minute, Keane found the back of the net but his effort was ruled offside.
Armenia threatened shortly after the interval but Ireland responded with another Keane breakaway shortly after the hour mark, however, the striker could only hit the woodwork from close-range.
In the 77th minute Fahey, a second-half substitute in place of Aiden McGeady, finally broke the deadlock, firing home after the Armenian defence had failed to deal with a cross into the box.
Armenia fought hard to try and find the equaliser but lacked the killer touch, leaving Ireland celebrating an important three points away from home.