Ireland qualified for the playoffs for next year's European Championship after capitalizing on Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovski's disputed sending-off to win 2-1 at home on Tuesday.
The victory wasn't enough for the Irish to top the group because Russia beat Andorra 6-0, maintaining its two-point lead. However, Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni was delighted his side battled past a team he labeled the best in the group. "Armenia has scored many, many more goals than us. In every position they have a strong team, their midfield is very quick and fast, also their striker is very dangerous. So I am happy," Trapattoni said.
Armenia was attempting to reach the finals of a major tournament for the first time but its hopes virtually disappeared when the Spanish referee sent Berezovski off. "I personally thought it wasn't a handball from their point of view, but we'll take that and we'll take the sending-off," Cox said. "We're just a little bit unfortunate we got one as well."
In addition to the fact that Berezovski may not have touched the ball with his arm, Gonzalez should have whistled moments earlier because Cox had controlled the long through ball from Glenn Whelan with his outstretched right arm.
"It only just came over my shoulder and I tried to control it," Cox said. "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."
Ireland was on the wrong end of a referee's handball decision two years ago in a qualification playoff against France for the 2010 World Cup. On that occasion, the official didn't see France striker Thiery Henry bring down a cross with his hand, before centering for William Gallas to score the crucial goal in extra time.
Ireland also finished with 10 men after Doyle was dismissed for elbowing his marker as he challenged for a high ball, but the damage had been done by then for Armenia.
However, Ireland survived without any further trouble and awaits its playoff opponent in Thursday's draw.