After going an entire year without a win, Israel picked up some much-needed confidence on Sunday night, beating World Cup-bound Honduras 4-2 in an international friendly in Houston, Texas.
In the national team’s final friendly match before it gets its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign underway against Belgium in Jerusalem in September, Israel finally gave a taste of its potential on the offensive end, scoring four goals against a team not named Luxembourg for the first time in seven years.
The blue-and-white had gone a year minus a day without tasting victory in any competition since defeating Honduras 2-0 in a friendly in New York last June. Israel had failed to win in its previous seven matches, losing five times and drawing twice.
The national team registered three draws and one defeat in its last four 2014 World Cup qualifiers while also losing its past three friendlies over the last year.
Fortunately for coach Eli Gutman, Israel was facing Honduras once more on Sunday and it registered the convincing win it was so desperate for in Houston, four days after being humbled 3-0 by Mexico.
After coming close with two earlier opportunities, Eran Zahavi gave Israel the lead in the 34th minute with an excellent effort from 20 meters out.
Omer Damari squandered two chances to double the blue-and-white’s advantage before the break and Honduras drew level two minutes into the second half thanks to Roger Espinoza’s stunning left-footed strike from 25 meters out.
However, Israel moved back in front through an own goal just six minutes later after Tal Ben-Haim’s shot went in off Honduras’ Maynor Figueroa.
Seven more minutes passed before Damari scored Israel’s third, beating the ’keeper from close range after Gili Vermut’s shot hit the post.
Vermut, who started for Israel for the first time since September 2012, finally scored the goal he deserved as the best player on the pitch in the 74th minute, firing in with a powerful right footed shot from just inside the box.
Carlo Costly scored a consolation goal for Honduras in the 83rd minute, but coach Gutman was still understandably delighted with his team’s victory.
“This wasn’t an easy win and the players deserve credit for implementing my instructions,” said Gutman. “I have got plenty to think about ahead of the match against Belgium and I believe we will be ready.”
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