MALTA — Armenia opened their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with an away win after beating Malta 1-0. Substitute Artur Sarkisov’s 70th-minute strike ensured Armenia’s victory.
It was a deserved victory for Armenia, who nearly went ahead as early as the fifth minute when Yura Movsisyan’s 20-yard free-kick was tipped round the post by Andrew Hogg.
Hogg also had to deny Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s strike while Movsisyan’s volley cannoned off the post as Vardan Minasyan’s men continued to push forward.
Both sides had chances to break the deadlock after the interval but Sarkisov’s introduction proved pivotal. The striker, who came on for Marcos Pizelli, slotted home Movsisyan’s left-wing cross to give Armenia the lead with Hogg finally beaten.
Armenia came close to extending their lead through Mkhitaryan whose initial effort, following a set-piece pass from Ozbiliz, took a deflection and ended just wide of the near post. The Armenian winger was then denied by Hogg who beat away his powerful effort from inside the box.
In other Group B match Bulgaria and Italy played a 2-2 tie. Next for Armenia in a matchup with Bulgaria in Sofia on September 11.
Armenia team agains Malta: G. Kasparov, S. Hovsepyan, R. Arzumanyan (80 V. Aleksanyan), H. Mkoyan, A. Yedigaryan (53 D. Manoyan), H. Mkhitaryan, L. Airapetian, A. Ozbiliz, M. Pizzelli (65 A. Sarkisov), Y. Movsisyan.