Netanya's new Under-21 finals venue opened

The inaugural match has been played at the Netanya Stadium in Israel, the second new venue to be opened ahead of next summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

The Netanya Stadium has become the second new venue to be opened ahead of the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals in Israel.

The inauguration was attended by the city's mayor, Miriam Feirberg, and was followed by Maccabi Netanya FC's first official game at the new ground, Sunday's 2-1 Israeli Premier League win against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in front of 14,000 spectators.

Maccabi Netanya striker Ahmad Sabaa, the first player to score a goal in the arena, said: "The new stadium [proved to be inspiring] and had a big impact on the result." His coach Tal Banin added: "I would pay a lot of money to play in this stadium."

The new ground will be one of four venues to host matches at next summer's tournament. The others are Bloomfield in Tel Aviv, the upgraded Teddy in Jerusalem and the first stadium built for the finals and opened last year, HaMoshava in Petach Tikva.

Maccabi Netanya's new residence brought an end to nearly 70 years based at the arena affectionately known as HaKufsa ('The Box'). The Diamonds had played home games at the Sar-Tov Stadium since August 1943, with the venue getting its nickname from the small size of the ground and the shape of its stands.

While the ribbon has been cut in Netanya, the redevelopment of the Teddy is almost complete with the new south stand taking shape. That will increase to 33,500 the capacity of a stadium originally inaugurated in 1991.