Tuesday, October 11, 2011
EUROPE: Ireland ends Movsisyan's dream
By Scott French
A disappointing finish for Pasadena's Yura Movsisyan and the Armenian national team, a 2-1 defeat Tuesday to Ireland that scuppered their European Championship hopes.
A controversial red card and an own goal contributed to the result, which sends the Irish -- with Galaxy forward Robbie Keane -- into a home-and-home playoff next month for a Euro 2012 berth. A draw to determine four playoff matchups will be held Thursday in Krakow, Poland.
Russia (7-1-2) won Group B with a 6-0 rout of Andorra and claimed one of 16 berths in next year's finals in Poland and the Ukraine. Other qualifiers are the host nations, England, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, defending champion Spain and Sweden. The Germans and Spaniards posted perfect qualifying records.
Joining Ireland (6-1-3) in the playoff round will be Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Montenegro, Portugal and Turkey. Sweden claimed the top runner-up spot and advanced straight to the finals.
Movsisyan, an Azerbaijan-born Armenian striker who spent his teen years in Southern California and starred at Pasadena High School and Pasadena City College, scored four goals in eight qualifying appearances for the Highlanders (5-3-2) and created three of four goals in Friday's victory over Macedonia that set up the winner-takes-all showdown in Dubin.
Armenia, which had never come close to qualifying for a major event, would have advanced to the playoff with a victory in Dublin. But goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky was sent off in the 26th minute after he was incorrectly judged to have handled the ball outside his box, defender Valeri Aleksanyan turned a Damien Duff cross into his own net before halftime, and the Highlanders were down, 2-0, after Richard Dunne's goal in the 60th minute.
Henrik Mkhitaryan scored two minutes later for Armenia, which couldn't find an equalizer even after Kevin Doyle was red-carded in the 81st minute.
Keane watched from the stands after an abductor injury ruled him out. His injury will be assessed when he returns to Los Angeles, but he figures to miss Sunday's SuperClasico meeting with Chivas USA and perhaps next week's CONCACAF Champions League group finale against Motagua in Honduras, which the Galaxy must win to advance to next year's knockout stage.
The Irish were beaten by France in their last playoff appearance, for a berth at the 2010 World Cup, with an uncalled intentional handball by Thierry Henry providing a dramatic winner for Les Bleus.