yossi benayoun 58 ap.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel proved once more on Wednesday night that when it comes to meaningless friendlies it is among the world’s best.
The national team defeated Romania 2-0 in Timisoara, with Yossi Benayoun scoring his 20th international goal in first-half injury time and Elyaniv Barda securing the win from the penalty spot with five minutes remaining.
Wednesday’s match was originally supposed to be a warm-up game ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
However, Israel never came close to reaching South Africa after a dismal qualifying campaign, and with Euro 2012 qualification not getting underway until September, the match in Romania was truly meaningless.
Nevertheless, interim coach Eli Ohana, who is filling in for the outgoing Dror Kashtan while the Israel Football Association continues its search for a permanent replacement, will be pleased with the victory in what could well prove to be his one and only match as the national team boss.
Romania controlled the possession from the start, but it was Israel which registered the first chance of the night. Roberto Colautti had time and space in the box after an Itai Shechter pass, but the Borussia Monchengladbach striker slipped and sent a feeble shot towards goal.
The hosts reached their best chance of the first half six minutes later, with goalkeeper Dudu Aoute well placed to parry Mihai Roman’s attempt.
An eventless first 45 minutes seemed destined to end in a goalless deadlock, but in first half stoppage time Benayoun’s solo effort would breach Romania’s defense.
The Liverpool midfielder picked up the ball just inside Romania’s half and after racing to the edge of the area exchanged passes with Shechter before coolly slotting the ball past ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon.
The hosts squandered a golden opportunity to equalize within the first
minute of the second half. Ciprian Marica received the ball one meter
from goal, only for Yoav Ziv to pounce from the line and block his
Romania continued to search for the equalizer in the remainder of the
match, but never really came close to scoring and Israel clinched the
win five minutes from time.
Substitute Barda was brought down in the box and after brushing himself
down stepped up to score from the spot and secure an irrelevant win.