Rafaelov and Buzaglo 311.
(photo credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)
Israel’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign ended on a winning note on Tuesday night
after the national team defeated Malta 2-0 at the Ta’Qali Stadium.
victory ensured the blue-andwhite finished Group F in third place, but Israel’s
performance was an appropriate finale to a bitterly frustrating
Israel lost any hope of finishing among the top two in the
group with consecutive defeats to Greece and Croatia in early September, and the
most important part of Tuesday’s match in Malta was the final whistle, as it
allows the national team to turn its focus to its first 2014 World Cup qualifier
There will likely be little improvement in the quality of
the playing staff by then, but coach Luis Fernandez is set to leave and Israel
fans will be confident the next coach will be able to get more out of the team
when it comes up against Portugal, Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and
Fernandez continued to experiment on Tuesday even in what was
likely his final match as Israel coach, starting Ashdod SC midfielder Nir Biton
in the center of defense.
Michael Mifsud squandered a good chance for the
Maltese in the fourth minute and Israel would take the lead seven minutes later,
with Lior Rafaelov scoring with an acrobatic effort after some excellent
build-up play by leftback Taleb Tawatha.
Malta came tantalizingly close
to equalizing in the 72nd minute when Ryan Fenech’s header hit the underside of
However, Israel wouldn’t pay the price for living
dangerously and clinched the win in the third minute of stoppage time thanks to
Rami Gershon’s header.
Greece finished top of Group F and secured an
automatic berth for the European Championships on Tuesday, with striker Angelos
Charisteas scoring a late winner on his international comeback to give the
Greeks a hard-earned 2- 1 victory over Georgia.
Greece scored twice in
the final 11 minutes after David Targamadze had fired the hosts into a 19th
Substitute Giorgos Fotakis leveled for the 2004 European
champion on 79 minutes and Charisteas struck five minutes from time on his
return to the squad for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.
which finished the group unbeaten in its 10 games, ends with 24 points with
Croatia second on 22 following its 2-0 home win over Latvia.France,
Denmark, Sweden and Russia all qualify on final day
Michael Krohn-Dehli and
Nicklas Bendtner struck to lift Denmark to a 2-1 win over Portugal on Tuesday
and a place in next year’s European Championship.
throughout, scored a consolation for Portugal with a trademark dipping free kick
at the start of stoppage time but it was too late for the visitors who will go
into the playoffs.
Edin Dzeko gave Bosnia a 40th minute lead in Paris,
but France advanced thanks to Samir Nasri’s 78th minute penalty.
will play in the playoffs.
Russia secured a place in the Euro 2012 finals
with a 6-0 thrashing of Andorra in its final qualifier to finish top of Group
Sweden came from behind to beat Netherlands 3-2 to book its place as
the qualifying competition’s best runner- up.
The Dutch had already
qualified, winning nine qualifiers on the trot to secure top spot in Group
Turkey secured a place in the playoffs after a Burak Yilmaz
second-half goal earned Guus Hiddink’s side a 1-0 win over Azerbaijan on
Tuesday, moving it into second place in Group A.
Euro 2008 semifinalists
Turkey needed a win to ensure a definite place in the playoffs but Belgium’s 3-1
loss to group winners Germany meant a draw would have sufficed.
completed a perfect qualifying campaign with the win over Belgium.
capped a perfect campaign in Group I with a 3-1 win over Scotland.
Czech Republic advanced to the playoffs from Group I.
Estonia and Ireland
will also take part in the playoff draw after finishing second in Group C and B,
respectively.Reuters contributed to this report