Israel 2-0 Armenia
Israel made a winning return to home soil with a comfortable victory against Armenia thanks to goals from Avi Nimni and Michael Zandberg.
Israel had not staged an official match in their own country since October 2001 due to the security situation in the region, but treated the crowd in Tel-Aviv’s National Stadium to an attacking spectacle.
It was Armenia who exerted the early pressure, but although Artur Oskonyan and Arman Karamyan went close on a two occasions, they failed to threaten goalkeeper Dudu Awat.
Israel played Haim Revivo as a lone striker, but the Galatasaray SK midfield player was well supported by Yossi Benayoun and Nimni and the home attack began to create numerous openings. The deadlock was broken on 19 minutes when Benayoun’s high cross from the left wing was cut back into the area by Michael Zandberg for Nimni to tap in from close range.
Israel made five changes at the break and the Armenians began to fade. They conceded a second goal just after the hour. The outstanding Zandberg was rewarded for his efforts with the goal after receiving a penetrating pass from substitute striker Eli Biton.
Two goals disallowed
Zandberg then had two further efforts ruled out due to offside and in the 84th minute substitutes Shai Holtzman and Baruch Dago combined well and Dago saw two attempts come back off the crossbar.
Malta and Northern Ireland tests
Israel have played only one game in their UEFA EURO 2004™ Group One qualifying campaign, a 2-0 win over Malta, and travel to Cyprus on March 29. Armenia are fourth in Group Six with one point from two games and are at home to Northern Ireland on the same day.
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