Khachik Chakhoyan
Nov 20 2008

FC Pyunik have won their eighth consecutive Armenian title after
defeating FC Ararat Yerevan 2-1 following extra time in the
championship play-off match.

One-off decider Ararat had beaten Pyunik on the last day of the regular
season to force the one-off title decider but could not repeat the
feat to pick up the crown. While it was the holders' eleventh gold
medal success overall, Ararat finished in the top three for the first
time in eight years.

Champions on top Pyunik dominated the first half, creating several
great chances and Edgar Malakyan came closest to breaking the deadlock
when he hit the post. Ararat could only muster a couple of Markos
Pizzelli long-range efforts in the first 45 minutes, but were a
different team after the break with Sargis Hovsepyan nearly putting
through his own net just before the hour mark.

Tadevosyan intervention It was the champions, though, that took the
lead when 18-year-old substitute striker Albert Tadevosyan headed in
Norayr Sahakyan's cross midway through the second period. Ararat's
response was almost immediate, Vahagn Minasyan meeting Pizzeli's
corner to nod in. With eight minutes of normal time remaining,
Pyunik squandered a golden opportunity to wrap up the game and the
title. Tadevosyan was fouled in the area, but Hovsepyan hit the
crossbar from the penalty spot.

"Toughest title" Ararat were reduced to ten men shortly after
the missed penalty and, as the match entered extra time, Pyunik's
unrelenting pressure eventually told as Tadevosyan scored another
header in the 109th minute. There was still time, however, for
the match-winner and Ararat defender Juliano Gimenez to collect
red cards. "We were deserved winners," said victorious captain
Hovsepyan. "We have a very young team and that is why this triumph is
even more important for us. It was my toughest title." Pyunik defender
Karen Dokhoyan, 32, added: "Ararat proved to be decent rivals. It
has been a long time since winning the Armenian league was that tough."