Sport Review: Strong debut for Porterfield’s national team

Football

Defeated but not lost: Armenia lost their opening match in the Euro-2008 qualifying campaign to Belgium 0-1. The debut of 60-year-old Scotsman Ian Porterfield as head coach in Yerevan on Wednesday drew cheers from some 12,000 fans as the team looked dominant on the pitch for most of the match despite the absence of a number of key players.

In the absence of young forwards, veterans Hamlet Mkhitaryan and Armen Shahgeldyan supported by Samvel Melkonyan from the right wing made the Belgian defense sweat and in several instances were close to scoring.

Goalkeeper Gevorg Kasparov looked solid between the sticks as he denied Belgian strikers several goal-scoring chances in the first and second halves. Kasparov was a forced substitution for veteran goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky, who had announced the end of his international career with Armenia last week.

The visitors’ goal came four minutes before half-time after Daniel Van Buyten’s header from Jelle Van Damme’s long throw-in found the top corner of the net.

After the match, Porterfield expressed satisfaction with his charges’ play: “Armenia played its last competitive match in March, but after such a long interval the lads managed to gather and put up a fight.”

Armenia’s next Euro-2008 qualifier is against Finland in Yerevan on October 7.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s U-21 team that beat Norway 1-0 in Yerevan on September 2 in their second match of the Euro-2007 qualifying tournament were denied qualification for playoffs as Norway drew with Bosnia & Herzegovina on Wednesday 1-1.

Earlier Armenia were hosted by Bosnia & Herzegovina and lost to the home side 2-3.

Weightlifting

Armenian athletes won two gold and one bronze medals in the European youth (Under 20) championships in the Italian city of Palermo.

Tigran Martirosyan (69 kg) from Gyumri won the European title and David Muradyan (62 kg) from Ararat finished in 5th place.

Among girls, Gyumri’s Meline Galuzyan (63 kg) became the European champion and Tehmine Karapetyan (53 kg), also from Gyumri, won the bronze.