World Cup qualifiers: Armenia boosted their hopes in Group B by beating Bulgaria 2-1
Armenia boosted their hopes of clinching second place in World Cup qualifying Group B with a 2-1 victory over Bulgaria
Last Updated: 11/10/13 7:43pm
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.