The Republic of Ireland's eight-game unbeaten run was smashed in Yerevan as Armenia shocked Stephen Kenny’s side, winning 1-0 at the Republican Stadium.
Ireland dominated throughout the opening 45 minutes in sweltering conditions in the Armenian capital, however, it was the home side who pushed on to secure the points in the second half.
The winning goal arrived in the 74th minute as Eduard Spertsyan’s long-range effort flew in off the post as Ireland’s quest for their first ever UEFA Nations League victory continues.
The first of four games inside ten days, it was the sweltering conditions in the Armenian capital to start the summer series.
As expected, it was Ireland who dictated the pace of play in the early stages, knocking the ball around unchallenged, looking for openings down both flanks and through the middle.
Yet nothing was happening in the final third, with a touch of frustration, perhaps, creeping in due to the deep defending of the home side, while a couple of long hopeful balls served no purpose, expending energy in the hot conditions.
It was the home side who sparked the game into life as they managed to work a shot on goal with their first foray forward.
In the sixth minute, the ball was played into the advanced Tigran Barseghyan on the left side of the penalty area and with his snap-shot sneaking in at the near post, Caoimhin Kelleher got down well to make the save.
A minute later, the home side were in on goal again as Eduard Spertsyan was played into the box. Shane Duffy had to be alert to cover and block the shot.
Duffy then picked up a yellow card in the eighth minute after a poor pass inside from Nathan Collins behind Jeff Hendrick, and the defender's late lunge prevented a possible burst through on goal.
Ireland eventually got going again leading to two Callum Robinson efforts inside four minutes, the first drilled into the side-netting, while the second arrived following some good link-up play between Ogbene and Hendrick.
Robinson looked to guide the ball into the corner, however, Hovhannes Hambartsumyan was well-placed to slice clear.
The good spell continued for the Irish side with Ogbene’s movement causing real problems, although the home goal remained untested, while the mid-half water break halted proceedings.
A set-piece in the 29th minute gave Ireland a chance to work the ball on goal but it was wasted, while a handball check was waved away moments after Troy Parrott’s cross almost caught the keeper off guard, but David Yurchenko fisted clear.
Ireland’s first real clear-cut chance arrived in the 38th minute, as Hendrick rolled the perfect ball through to Robinson.
Yurchenko did well to send the Irish attacked wide without committing and while Robinson eventually pulled the ball back to Ogbene, there were bodies in the box and the resulting shot under pressure was dragged wide.
The home side got back on the front foot just before the break, as a decent break down the right led to Vahan Bichakhchyan getting a look on goal, but his well-struck shot was well over.
But then on the stroke of half-time, Ireland should have taken the lead as a set-piece delivery handed Ogbene a free header inside ten yards, however, his controlled effort drifted just over the bar when he really had to hit the target.
Scoreless at the break, Ireland led on the possession front, but in truth Kenny’s side lacked invention with Armenia captain Varazdat Haroyan putting in a commanding display in the heart of the defence to keep the attempts on goal to a minimum.
The home side were quickest out of the blocks in the opening stages of the second half and after just four minutes Barseghyan slammed the ball into the back of the net following another good break down the left by Hambartsumyan.
A great finish from the Slovan Bratislava man who cut inside and drilled the ball into the top corner, but he dropped to his knees moments later as he spotted the offside flag hoisted high.
Ireland tried to respond with another off-target Robinson effort but the home side continued to trouble, roared on by the vocal crowd inside the atmospheric arena.
Armenia take the lead thanks to a wonderful long-range effort from Eduard Spertsyan. Stephen Kenny's side with it all to do in the final stages.— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 4, 2022
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Barseghyan again has a look at goal in the 55th minute, this time from outside the box, and his cultured left foot had Kelleher scrambling across his goal, but the ball curled wide.
An injury stoppage proved a welcome respite for the Irish side, who took advantage taking on liquids, and what followed was their first chance on target, after 62 minutes, as Duffy's header from a corner was well held by the keeper.
Michael Obafemi replaced Troy Parrott in the 65th minute and shortly after, the game appeared to really open up with the home side sensing that they could take the game to their opponents.
Hendrick managed another shot on target but the keeper read it well and saved without too much fuss, while Ogbene’s burst into the box was brilliantly defended by Haroyan once more.
More changes for Ireland as Jason Knight and James McClean were sent on, but the home side maintained their attacking intent.
And it led to the opening goal of the game as an Ireland counterattack was halted on the half-way line with the ball dropping to Spertsyan.
The midfielder turned towards goal and moments later drilled an unstoppable effort from way out, which cannoned off the post and into the back of the net, Kelleher unable to get a glove on the ball.
It was a super strike from the FC Krasnodar man and in truth, no more than the home side deserved, following a fine second half display.
Fifteen minutes remained as Ireland looked to salvage something from the potential defeat in Yerevan with Alan Browne and Will Keane added to the attack.
Ireland were unable to get any sort of consistent attacking play going with an 86th-minute set-piece the best they could muster as John Egan headed wide.
And while the pressure continued to build as the 90-minute mark approached with the home side camped in their box defending their slender lead, Kenny's side appeared clueless in attack and were unable to even test the keeper throughout the final four minutes of injury time with Armenia comfortably holding on for a historic victory.
Armenia: 1 David Yurchenko; 2 Arman Hovhannisyan (Styopa Mkrtchyan 61), 19 Hovhannes Hambartsumyan, 15 Hrayr Mkoyan, 3 Varazdat Haroyan (capt), 5 Artak Grigoryan, 8 Eduard Spertsyan, 11 Tigran Barseghyan, 13 Kamo Hovhannisyan; 7 Khoren Bayramyan, 23 Vahan Bichakhchyan (Sargis Adamyan 56)
Republic of Ireland: Caoimhin Kelleher; Nathan Collins, Shane Duffy, John Egan; Seamus Coleman (Will Keane 81), Enda Stevens (James McClean 73), Josh Cullen (Alan Browne 81), Jeff Hendrick; Chiedozie Ogbene, Callum Robinson (Jason Knight 73), Troy Parrott (Michael Obafemi 65)
Referee: Radu Petrescu (ROU)