With four matches remaining coming into today’s play, Europe’s World Cup qualifying Group B was already a mess. Now, it’s even more so.
25-year-old striker Gevorg Ghazaryan (pictured, right) scored a crazy rebound header in extra time as Armenia stunned the Czech Republic 2-1. The three points means the top four teams in the group all sit within five points of one another – pending results later in the day of course.
Italy are still relatively comfortably in first place with 14 points, but behind them it gets clogged. Bulgaria sit on 10 points in second place, and Armenia’s win puts them level with the Czech Republic for third with nine points each. Even Denmark still has a prayer – albeit with lots of help needed – back in fifth place with six points.
Looking at the standings, the Czech Republic had a fantastic chance to firmly grab second place if they could have won, with Bulgaria playing at Italy later tonight in a match with now massive implications.
Denmark also play bottomfeeders Malta, and a win could draw them level with the Czech Republic and Armenia.
It will be an interesting home stretch for the group. Both the Armenians and Czechs have matches with Italy and Bulgaria remaining on the docket, while the Danes creeping up from behind get to play Malta twice, including the one later today.
As for Ghazaryan, the goal is his first of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, and his first goal for Armenia since June of 2012 when he bagged a brace in a friendly with Kazakhstan. The striker plays his professional ball in the Kazakhstan Premier League with Shakhter Karagandy, having just moved to there in July from Ukranian side Metalurg Donetsk.
Here’s video of his goal. It appears in real time to be a poor bit of goalkeeping by Czech keeper Petr Cech. However, upon watching the replay, the Chelsea netminder saves the first shot on a tough angle, but a brilliant bit of reaction time allows Ghazaryan to head in the rebound.