European Qualifiers: Israel open campaign with a 2-1 win over Cyprus
Last Updated: 11/10/14 12:14pm
Israel opened their Euro 2016 Group B qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win over Cyprus in Nicosia on Friday night.
Omer Damari put the visitors ahead on 38 minutes, with Tal Ben Haim adding a second just before the break.
Cyprus - who recorded an impressive away win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in their first qualifier - rallied and reduced the deficit through Konstantinos Makridis on 67 minutes, but could not find an equaliser.
The home side had started brightly, with an ambitious long-range effort from Andreas Makris tipped over by Ofir Martziano.
On 10 minutes, Israel threatened when Eran Zahavi sent an effort over from 12 yards.
The visitors maintained their momentum, as Gil Vermouth curled his shot wide from the edge of the Cyprus penalty area before Damari's close-range header was saved.
The Austria Vienna forward, however, made his next chance count when coverting a cross from Vermouth in the 38th minute.
Israel went 2-0 ahead on the stroke of half-time when Ben Haim weaved his way into the Cyprus penalty area and slotted past Antonis Giorgallides.
The Cyprus keeper saved from Vermouth at the start of the second half, before the home side reduced the deficit on 66 minutes through Makridis.
The hosts almost snatched an equaliser when Pieros Sotiriou headed over from six yards after a cross by Dimitris Christofi.
On 74 minutes, Israel midfielder Eran Zahavi crashed a low shot against the base of the post from 18 yards before Lior Rafaelov's effort was saved.
In the closing stages, Israel goalkeeper Ofir Martziano was alert to tip over Vincent Laban's header.