YEREVAN - Ireland left it until late to break down a tough and at times dangerous Armenia on Friday, winning their opening European Championship Group B qualifier 1-0 thanks to substitute Keith Fahey's 76th minute strike.
Defender Sean St Ledger and captain Robbie Keane should have put the visitors ahead earlier but the Birmingham City winger's first Irish goal, a neat close range finish, gave coach Giovanni Trapattoni a winning start to his campaign.
Armenia, who held Portugal and Serbia to draws at home during qualification for the last European Championship, only briefly threatened to go one better with Shakhtar Donetsk attacker Henrik Mkhitaryan proving a particular menace.
Ireland host Andorra on Tuesday while Armenia travel to Macedonia. Both face top seeds Russia and Slovakia later in the qualifying campaign.