Stephen Kenny has urged the Republic of Ireland to learn from the “few minutes of madness” that almost cost them a Nations League victory against Armenia at nine.
Ireland, who needed to avoid defeat at the Aviva Stadium to retain League B status, appeared to be walking three points as the game entered its final 20 minutes with the home side leading 2-0 thanks to goals from John Egan and Michael Obafemi. .
However, they needed a stoppage time penalty from Robbie Brady to get them over the line after the visitors, who finished the game with just nine men on the pitch, struck twice in as many minutes to leave the result in the crucible.
Say whaaaat??Spertsyan equalizes! – Official Armenian FF (@OfficialArmFF) September 27, 2022
When later asked if he was worried about his team’s conceding goals from Artak Dashyan and Eduard Spertsyan, Kenny replied: “I’m not worried at all.
“We were leading 2-0 and went after the third goal when we didn’t need it. We had overlapping centre-backs and were leading 2-0 in a game we had to win.
“We lost a bit of structure – you have to maintain the structure of your back three and some protection from that as well when you win 2-0.
“We weren’t losing 2-0. We went for a third goal and got punished, and we came back and got the winner.
“Overall it’s a really good performance with a few crazy minutes, and that’s something we can learn from in terms of taking responsibility for not being exposed when you win like that.”
Ireland finished third in Group 1 behind Scotland and Ukraine after aiming for top spot, and former defender Richard Dunne was less than enthusiastic when asked about Ireland’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2024 under Kenny.
He told Premier Sports: “We were supposed to win this group and we ended up in a relegation battle against the 92nd best team in the world and it’s a last minute penalty so it depends on the group, the draw fate, it always depends on the draw.
“Fingers crossed there are more positive results to come, but we’ll see.”
FT | Ireland 3-2 Armenia— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) September 27, 2022
Kenny, who has won four of the 21 competitive games he has taken charge of, nevertheless remains confident his side are on an upward trajectory and has dismissed concerns over a perceived lack of peak.
He said: “In the last two home games we have scored three goals here. We need to get better at keeping the sheets clean.
“It’s not creativity that worries me. To succeed, it is an important dynamic in the team that we must improve.
Brady struck in no time after Artak Dashyan, who was sent off along with Hovhannes Hambartsumyan amid furious Armenian protests, was found to have managed in the area following a VAR review.
The Preston winger’s first departure for his country since March last year could hardly have ended more satisfactorily.
Brady said: “The manager told me before the game that I was going to take penalties if one came, although I don’t think we’ve had any for years.
“I wasn’t holding my breath, but we got one in the end and luckily it came in.”