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Late show delights fans as Armenia stun Romania to win third World Cup qualifier in a row


Armenia scored two late goals to beat Romania 3-2 and win their third straight match in European World Cup qualifying Group J.

The game was a throwback to pre-Covid 19 days with a loud crowd of more than 4,000 allowed into the Republican Stadium and they celebrated wildly at the final whistle of a dramatic win for Armenia, who have never qualified for a major tournament.

Armenia, ranked 99th in the world, had beaten Liechtenstein and Iceland before taking on a Romania side viewed as strong candidates to make the play-offs behind group favourites Germany.

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Eduard Spertsyan put Armenia ahead in the 56th minute but Romania levelled through Alexandru Cicaldau six minutes later.

Cicaldau then made it 2-1 with a powerful header in the 72nd minute, which looked to have given the Romanians the three points before a dramatic finale to the game.

Romania’s George Puscas was sent off in the 78th for a dangerous challenge, his raised foot crashing into his opponent’s chest.

Armenia, with the home support roaring them on, looked to use their extra-man advantage to get back into the game and they did so, in the 87th minute, levelling through Varazdat Haroyan who volleyed in a Tigran Barseghyan cross.

Television replays suggested the goal was offside but, with no VAR in use, the Romanian appeals were to no avail and their night was to get worse.

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In the 89th minute, Alexandru Cretu was ruled to have impeded Spertsyan and amid the noise and excitement Barseghyan calmly converted the winner from the spot.

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