Israel defender Eitan Tibi celebrates after scoring the only goal of Friday night’s 1-0 win at Liechtenstein in 2018 World Cup qualifying action..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A single goal was enough for Israel to beat Liechtenstein in 2018 World Cup qualifying on Friday and snap two humbling streaks.
Eitan Tibi scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory in the 21st minute, with Israel yet again registering a lackluster performance. At least it was enough to give the blue-andwhite a win after four consecutive losses, with Tibi’s goal the team’s first after three matches in which Elisha Levy’s side failed to find the back of the net.
Israel remained in fourth place in Group G, moving to 12 points, one back of Albania in third place.
Israel completes its qualifying campaign when it hosts Spain at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on Monday.
“We are happy we won and we could have done so by a greater margin had we taken our chances,” said Levy, who is set to coach the team for the last time on Monday.
Levy’s tenure is expected to end next week, and not just because the team hasn’t shown any progress under his guidance. Levy has called up 56 different players during his short stint, failing to find a squad or a lineup to build around.
Spain also has nothing to play for on Monday after sealing its place in the World Cup as Group G winners on Friday, storming to a 3-0 win over Albania with a ruthless first half display, while nearest challenger Italy was held to a draw by Macedonia.
Valencia forward Rodrigo Moreno marked his first international start by opening the scoring in the 16th minute, chesting down an outrageously stylish pass from Isco to swivel and fire into the top corner.
Real Madrid midfielder Isco then shot high into the net in the 23rd to complete an equally impressive move of short floor passes between David Silva and Koke, while Thiago Alcantara scored the third three minutes later with a thumping header from a pinpoint cross from debutant Alvaro Odriozola.
The only downside for Spain was a shaky performance from Gerard Pique, who was booed by large sections of the Alicante crowd every time he touched the ball following his support for last Sunday’s referendum on Catalan independence and was substituted by Lopetegui after an hour was up.
“Now is the time to focus on positive things, in football and in the country on the whole,” Lopetegui told reporters.
“Sport can lead the way in how we should be as a country and you have to celebrate the good things.
We were jumping around and singing in the dressing room, celebrating a moment like tonight as you should.
“Many things have happened but we’ve taken it day by day, focusing on the best interests of the team,” added Lopetegui, who has won eight out of nine competitive games since succeeding Vicente del Bosque as coach in July 2016, his side scoring 35 goals while only conceding three.
“I’ve been lucky to have players that have shown so much commitment and their impeccable attitude has helped a lot. We are delighted and proud of what we have achieved because it’s very important for Spain.”Reuters contributed to this report.