The Armenian squad (Courtesy Armenian Football Federation).

Armenia Defeats Wales and Latvia in European Qualifiers, Advances to Second Position in Group


WASHINGTON — The last time the Armenian squad defeated a national soccer team in a match outside Armenia was over two years ago. The last time Armenia played with Wales was in 2001: back then, the teams drew twice in the World Cup qualifying games.

On June 16, the statistics changed in favor of Armenia: in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, the hosts lost 2:4.

The Group D ranking

Armenia and Wales (the country of Wales is part of the United Kingdom) are in group D of the Euro 2024 Cup qualifying games. The Dragons, as the team of Wales is nicknamed, scored a goal 10 minutes after the first kick-off, but it took Zelarayan only 9 minutes to level the game. Attacking midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, of Armenian descent through his father, is from Argentina and began playing for the national team of Armenia in 2021. German-Armenian forward Grant Leon-Ranos doubled the score before the break and hit another goal after the break: 1:3 in favor of Oleksandr Petrakov’s squad.

The host team tried hard to catch up. Harry Wilson didn’t miss the target after his teammate dropped the ball to him: 2:3 was still in Armenia’s favor. When in the 74th minute, Zelayaran sealed Armenia’s victory by scoring another goal, SkySports live commentators noticed:  “Hard to believe this team is ranked 97 in the world – they have attacked with such velocity and quality.” The British Guardian also noted that in FIFA’s ranking list, Armenia is 71 places below Wales: the Dragons ranked 26th before Armenia pulled off a shock win in Cardiff. “This stadium, so often a cacophony of noise, silenced but for around 200 Armenia supporters who rejoiced at their first win in 10 matches,” summarized the Guardian.

SkySports comment on the Wales-Armenia game (courtesy of Skysports)

On June 19, the Armenians hosted Latvia, another team of group D. The Latvians had had only defeats before coming to Yerevan. The expectation that Oleksandr Petrakov’s squad would win again proved true soon: Nayir Tiknizian didn’t miss the target in the 35th minute. After the break, at Latvian midfielder Roberts Savalnieks’ attempt the ball hit Armenian player Mkrtchian and appeared in Armenia’s goal. The referee counted a self-goal by Styopa Mkrtchian: 1:1. In the 91st minute, Armenians, however, pulled out the much needed victory: Tigran Barseghian didn’t miss the target from the penalty spot. With two back-to-back victories, Petrakov’s squad climbed to second place in the D group leaving only Turks ahead of us. The two challenging games with Croatia, the world’s 7th strongest team, according to FIFA’s index, are expected this fall. Armenia will also play a game with the Dragons in Armenia, Latvians in Latvia and the Turkish squad in Turkey. The top two winners of the group will qualify for the final European playoff games in Germany next June.

Croatia is among the top 10 national squads according to FIFA

The accompanying videos below features snapshots of the game, including Tigran Barseghian’s final goal.

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