Bulgaria continued their impressive start to FIFA World Cup™ qualifying with a bad-tempered victory at home to nine-man Armenia tonight.
Stanislav Manolev's close-range finish settled an untidy game in which the hosts' Svetoslav Dyakov and Armenia's Marcos Pizelli and Gevorg Ghazaryan were sent off all in the space of four second-half minutes. The win built on Bulgaria's opening draw with Italy and gave them four points from two games in Group B, while Armenia have now won one and lost one.
Armenia were the first to threaten after a slow start to the game, Ghazaryan seeing his effort saved by Nikolay Mihailov in the Bulgaria goal. At the other end Ivan Ivanov headed an outswinging corner from Vladimir Gadzhev wide of the left post shortly before the half-hour mark.
The visitors almost went ahead out of the blue in the 43rd minute when Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired a shot from the edge of the area against a post. Instead Bulgaria took the lead barely a minute later as Ivelin Popov's pass inside the area picked out Manolev, who shot high into the net.
Veselin Minev had an effort saved by Roman Berezovsky just after the break as the hosts threatened again before the visitors lost their cool completely. Pizelli was sent off for violent conduct in a 73rd-minute incident which saw Dyakov also dismissed for a second yellow card.
Ghazaryan got his marching orders, also for violent conduct, in the 76th minute and, with their opponents' discipline gone completely, Bulgaria easily held on for the win.