World Cup qualifiers: Armenia boosted their hopes in Group B by beating Bulgaria 2-1
Last Updated: 11/10/13 7:43pm
Ivelin Popov: Goal not enough for Bulgaria
Armenia boosted their hopes of clinching second place in World Cup qualifying Group B with a dramatic 2-1 victory over nine-man Bulgaria in Yerevan - denting their opponents' ambitions in the process.
The hosts took the lead just before half-time, Aras Ozbiliz despatching a free-kick into the top corner after Bulgaria defender Nikolay Bodurov had been sent off for a foul on Ozbiliz.
Ivelin Popov got Bulgaria back on level terms with a free-kick of his own just after the hour mark, but the visitors' cause was hindered by the dismissal of midfielder Svetoslav Dyakov moments later and Yura Movsisyan pressed home Armenia's numerical advantage by netting an 87th-minute winner.
The result lifted Armenia to within one point of Bulgaria as the battle to finish runner-up behind pool winners Italy intensified ahead of the final round of matches.
Visiting goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov produced a brilliant save in the 19th minute to keep out Ozbiliz's curling right-footed shot.
The Bulgarians were being restricted to harmless long-range efforts until finally working in Roman Berezovsky 10 minutes before the interval, the Armenia goalkeeper saving Ivelin Popov's left-footed drive with his feet.
But, when the deadlock was broken in the 44th minute, it was the hosts who were celebrating. Bodurov was shown a straight red card for a professional foul on Ozbiliz, who swiftly recovered and sent the resulting left-footed free-kick into the top-right corner.
Stoyanov was called upon on 52 minutes to pull off the first noteworthy save of the second half, parrying Artur Sarkisov's 12-yard attempt.
Berezovsky again saved with his feet from Stanislav Manolev's shot nine minutes into the second period, but five minutes later the Armenia goalkeeper was beaten.
Georgi Milanov was fouled by Karlen Mkrtchyan, and Popov stepped up to strike the free-kick into the top-left corner from 25 yards.
Dyakov became the second Bulgaria player to be dismissed just after the hour when he saw red for a second bookable offence following a foul on Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The hosts made their two-man advantage tell three minutes from time, Mkrtchyan providing the assist for Yura Movsisyan to lift the winner over Stoyanov from 12 yards.
It could even have been 3-1, but Stoyanov showed fine reflexes to keep out a stoppage-time drive from Gevorg Ghazaryan.
Armenia complete their group campaign in Naples against Italy on Tuesday, while Bulgaria take on Czech Republic in Sofia.
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Fri 11th Oct - Group B
Armenia2 - 1Bulgaria
Malta1 - 4Czech Rep
Denmark2 - 2Italy
Fri 11th Oct - Group G
Lithuania2 - 0Latvia
Bosnia4 - 1Liechtenstein
Greece1 - 0Slovakia
Fri 11th Oct - Group A
Croatia1 - 2Belgium
Wales1 - 0Macedonia
Fri 11th Oct - Group F
Azerbaijan2 - 0N Ireland
Luxembourg0 - 4Russia
Portugal1 - 1Israel
Fri 11th Oct - Group H
Moldova3 - 0San Marino
Ukraine1 - 0Poland
England4 - 1Montenegro
Fri 11th Oct - Group C
Faroe Islands1 - 1Kazakhstan
Sweden2 - 1Austria
Germany3 - 0Rep Ireland
Fri 11th Oct - Group E
Albania1 - 2Switzerland
Slovenia3 - 0Norway
Iceland2 - 0Cyprus
Fri 11th Oct - Group D
Netherlands8 - 1Hungary
Andorra0 - 4Romania
Estonia0 - 2Turkey
Fri 11th Oct - Group I
Spain2 - 1Belarus
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||10||14|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I