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Irish buoyed by Armenia's shock defeat to weak Iran

THERE was at least some good news from an Irish viewpoint last night as Armenia, Ireland's first opponents in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, went down to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to Iran.

But Russia served up notice of their status as group favourites with a 1-0 win at home to Bulgaria in Dick Advocaat's first game in charge.

The Armenians are looking to build a young side under new manager Vardan Minasyan, but last night's loss in Yerevan was a major disappointment, especially as Iran had sent an under-strength squad to Armenia for the game, and Minasyan will have to work hard to lift spirits before Ireland visit in just 22 days' time.

Macedonia, who took points off Ireland in the qualifying campaigns for the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, had a disappointing 1-1 draw away to Malta last night.

Slovakia, playing their first game since the World Cup finals, were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Croatia.

Ireland's other group opponents were also in friendly action last night as Andorra lost yet again, going down 1-0 away to Cyprus.

Kerr's Faroes lose qualifier

The Euro 2012 campaign kicked off in Tallinn last night and there was some Irish interest as Brian Kerr's Faroe Islands side went close to achieving one of their best-ever results. The Faroes were leading 1-0 in Estonia, but the home side scored twice in second-half injury-time to save their blushes and seal a 2-1 win.