(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Israel gave its fans little reason for optimism on Wednesday night, losing 2-0
to Serbia at Bloomfield Stadium in its final warm-up match before it resumes its
Euro 2012 qualifying campaign next month.
The national team played poorly
throughout the friendly encounter, and had it not been for goalkeeper Dudu
Aouate, would have fallen to a far more humbling defeat.
“Even though we
lost we could have equalized on several occasions,” Israel coach Luis Fernandez
said. “Despite the defeat I’m pleased with the match.”
Israel, which is
in fourth position in Group F with four points from four matches, hosts Latvia
on March 26 before playing Georgia at Bloomfield three days later.
optimistic ahead of next month,” Fernandez added. “We must remember that we were
without a lot of injured players tonight. I’m sure we will play a lot better in
Serbia was the more dangerous team throughout the
After just seven minutes, Zoran Tosic had time and space in the
Israel box, but his weak effort was saved by Aouate.
Israel’s ’keeper was
kept busy during the entire match, and he was called into action yet again in
the 17th minute, saving Dragan Mrda’s shot from close range.
later, however, even the excellent Aouate could not come to his team’s
Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic raced down the right flank
before crossing an accurate ball for Tosic, who coolly tucked in a volley from
five meters out.
The hosts finally created a chance in the 30th minute,
but Bibras Natcho’s shot was weak and wide.
The blue-and-white’s best
opportunity to equalize came in the first minute of the second half when
substitute Gili Vermut found Elyaniv Barda in the box, only for the Genk striker
to send his shot centimeters wide of the post.
Aouate kept Israel alive
with a save from Mrda 10 minutes after the break, but Serbia clinched the win in
the 76th minute.
Lax defending meant Veseljko Trivunovic had all the time
in the world on the edge of the box, and he capped Serbia’s win with a superb
Earlier Wednesday, Israel’s under-21 team lost 1-0 to
Stefan Scepovic scored the only goal of the match at Bloomfield
in the 67th minute, in what was Israel’s first of many warm-up games ahead of
Euro 2013, for which the team has qualified automatically as the host.