Conditions weren’t ideal. The heat was intense in the Yerevan Republican Stadium but Birmingham City midfielder Keith Fahey came off the bench to smash the call past Roman Berezovsky to snatch victory.
No-one will have been more delighted than captain Keane, who passed up a glorious early chance, had a goal ruled out for offside and then hit the post on a night when things did not go for him in the final third.
However, there was as much relief as pleasure as he and his team-mates left the pitch having been put to the test by their hosts.
Keane wasn’t at his best, it must be said. He missed chances he would have buried on any other day. Once again he’s unsettled at his current club, Tottenham Hotspur. The all-time leading scorer for the Irish team finds that he has to fight for his place in the starting XI. The transfer deadline has come and gone and now Keane has to knuckle down and hope Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, finds it in his heart to include Keane in his team.
Another Irish player who’s at odds with his club, Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given, had little work to do during the game. Armenia gave as good as they got and although Given had few saves to make which genuinely taxed him, the home side were quick, direct and technically gifted and were certainly no push-over.
No doubt “Il Trap” – Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni – will be very happy with the result, though. His side head into Tuesday’s home game in Dublin against the minnows of Group B, Andorra, knowing a perfect start would set the up very nicely for what lies ahead.