Russia endured a frustrating night in front of goal, while Slovakia laboured to a narrow victory.
Russia headed to Armenia looking to consolidate their standing at the top of Group B, but could only muster a 0-0 draw against dogged opposition.
With Dick Advocaat's side having failed to find the target for the third game in a row, Republic of Ireland moved to the summit following a 2-1 win over Macedonia.
Armenia were quickly out of the blocks on Saturday and a shot from Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the sixth minute was well taken by Igor Akinfeev.
The Russian goalkeeper then denied Edgar Malakyan before Gevorg Ghazaryan sent his effort the wrong side of the post.
Armenia kept up the pressure in front of a partisan crowd and Marco Pizelli saw his shot parried by Akinfeev.
Russia responded in the 28th minute but Chelsea's Yury Zhirkov was out of luck.
Ghazaryan went close at the start of the second half and Yura Movsisyan should have put Armenia ahead in the 52nd minute, only to fire over the bar.
That sparked Russia into action and they gained the momentum.
But Alexander Kerzhakov, Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin, Alan Dzagoev and Roman Shirkov were all wasteful and they had to settle for a point.
Slovakia looked far from impressive as they edged out whipping boys Andorra 1-0 to join the three-way tussle at the top of the table.
Filip Sebo got the only goal in the 21st minute to move Slovakia onto 10 points from five games.
But a series of chances to add a second came to nought, setting up a nervous finish for the visitors.
Slovakia started out well enough, with Erik Jendrisek and Robert Vittek going close in the early stages.
Vittek turned provider for the goal, crossing for Sebo to finish from close range.
Jendrisek might have added a second moments later, but Josep Anton Gomez held his shot.
However, Andorra were able to get forward too, and Jan Mucha had to save from Sergi Moreno in the 35th minute.
Gomez remained the busier goalkeeper, and he had to parry Jan Durica's free-kick away from danger.
Miroslav Stoch tested Gomez again a little over a minute into the second half, but again the Andorra stopper parried the shot away from danger.
Martin Skrtel then missed the target with a shot from the edge of the area.
Moreno blazed over from long range for Andorra, before Sebastian Gomez fired wide at the other end.
The game petered out then as there were few chances in the final stages, with Slovakia happy to shut up shop and take the points home.