Giovanni Trapattoni was happy to settle for a 1-0 victory in Armenia as the Republic of Ireland survived a test of their Euro 2012 credentials.
The Italian had insisted before the game that winning by the only goal would do for him with the result all-important in his side’s opening qualifier.
He had warned in advance that the Armenians would be difficult opponents, and he was proved absolutely correct as Vardan Minasyan’s side more than made a game of it at the sweltering Yerevan Republican Stadium.
Trapattoni said: “It’s not easy for a coach or a manager to say before the game, ’we will win’. We have to respect our opponents and we must have respect for this opponent.
“I felt we could win this game, but my colleague from Armenia would have thought they could win it too.
“I knew it would be a very, very difficult game for us, but I think over the 90 minutes, we deserved to win it.
“For us, it is a very, very important victory because we have started the campaign with this result away from home. That creates confidence and we can go on from here.”
Ireland started strongly and might have been ahead as early as the eighth minute had skipper Robbie Keane hit the target rather than volleyed wide with just goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky to beat.
The 30-year-old was denied his 44th senior international goal on his 101st appearance when his 31st-minute strike was ruled out by an offside flag, and later hit the post as it looked as though the visitors might have to settle for a point.
However, with the Armenians themselves pushing for victory, it was left to relative novice Keith Fahey to snatch the points.
The Birmingham midfielder, introduced as a 68th-minute replacement for Aiden McGeady, struck eight minutes later from close range, his first senior international goal on his first competitive appearance.
Trapattoni was delighted to return to Dublin with the first phase of his latest mission successfully completed, and predicted that Armenia could yet have a significant say in the destiny of Group B with fancied sides Russia and Slovakia yet to play in Yerevan.
He said: “I saw the last qualification for the World Cup and Armenia lost one or two games, but played very well. I think it will not be easy also for other teams coming here.”
Ireland returned to Dublin in the early hours of this morning after a five-hour flight to start preparations for Tuesday night’s home clash with Andorra.