israel latvia 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel kept alive its slim hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 on Saturday night,
beating Latvia 2-1 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to Biram Kiyal’s 81stminute
The national team got the match off to an encouraging start and
took the lead after 16 minutes through Elyaniv Barda’s goal.
Israel had little to offer after that, and found itself in deep trouble after
Kaspars Gorkss equalized in the 62nd minute.
The visitors almost
completed the comeback five minutes later, but Artjoms Rudnevs squandered a
golden opportunity and Kiyal came to Israel’s rescue with an important
The victory leaves Israel in fourth position in Group F, but
Georgia’s unexpected 1-0 win over Croatia in Tbilisi on Saturday seriously
complicated the group and gives added significance to Tuesday’s qualifier
between the blue-and-white and Georgia at Bloomfield.
“We gave Latvia
hope by failing to score a second goal, but we found the way to comeback to
claim a win and recorded a victory we deserved,” Israel coach Luis Fernandez
said. “We are facing a very tough match against Georgia, which might be the best
team in the group and will be the favorites.
“If we beat Georgia on
Tuesday we will be in a good situation.”
Despite handing out over 4,000
tickets, the 14,000 capacity stadium was still far from full, but those who did
come out to cheer the national team saw Israel dominate the proceedings from the
The hosts reached their first chance of the match after less than
two minutes with Latvian goalkeeper Andris Vanins doing well to keep out Lior
Rafaelov’s powerful shot from the edge of the area.
Vanins was all that
stood between Israel and the opener once more seven minutes later, acrobatically
saving Bibras Natcho’s curling effort from 20 meters out.
However, in the
16th minute Israel’s pressure finally paid dividends.
Omer Damari failed
to tuck in Rafaelov’s cross, but Barda was on hand to slot in his 12th Israel
goal in his 27th appearance.
The national team took its foot off the gas
after going in front, but after setting up the opener, Rafaelov very nearly
doubled Israel’s lead all by himself in the 36th minute, twisting and turning in
the box but shooting high above Vanins’ crossbar.
Israel ’keeper Dudu
Aouate was rarely disturbed until the break, with the visitors reaching their
one and only chance of the first half six minutes from the interval when Ivans
Lukjanovs fluffed his shot from three meters out.
The hosts were more
than content to settle for their slender advantage at the start of the second
half and they paid the price for their lack of enthusiasm in the 62nd
The Israel defense failed to clear Jurijs Zigajevs’s free kick
and Gorkss made the most of the blunder and equalized from close
Not long after, Lativa almost took a stunning lead, but
fortunately for the blue-and-white, Rudnevs took far too long on the ball,
allowing Tal Ben-Haim to clear the danger with a lastditch
Latvia’s goal forced Fernandez into making changes and Israel
began to venture forward once more after the introductions of Ben Sahar and Maor
Sahar shot just wide from the edge of the box in the 68th
minute, with Buzaglo’s attempt missing the upright by centimeters 11 minutes
However, a moment of brilliance by Buzaglo in the 81st minute
ensured Israel took all three points.
The Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder
picked out Kiyal in the box with a delicate chip and the Celtic midfielder
headed in the winner to keep Israel in contention for a top-two finish in Group
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