Israel v moldova 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Israel got its 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign back on track on Wednesday night, defeating Moldova 2-1 in Chisinau.
The national team got off to the worst possible start after Igor Picusciac headed the hosts into the lead a mere 42 seconds into the match.
Moldova's early goal threatened to end Israel's qualifications hopes, however two goals in the final six minutes of the first half turned the match around and, in the end, were enough to secure all three points.
Omer Golan, who started the match only after Elyaniv Barda was forced out at the last moment with a stomach virus, grabbed the equalizer in the 39th minute and six minutes later substitute Klemi Saban slipped in the winner.
"You must take your hat off to the players. There's an outstanding spirit in this team, a winner's spirit," coach Dror Kashtan said about his side that, just like in its 2-2 draw with Switzerland on Saturday, came from behind and proved that what it lacks in quality it makes up in character.
"We recorded the result we wanted, but we need to play much better," Israel and Manchester City defender Tal Ben-Haim said.
"This is a very difficult place to get a result and I'm sure other teams will slip-up here."
Next up for Israel are two more must-win away matches. On October 11 the side visits Luxembourg and four days later it faces Latvia in Riga.
It seemed as though the national team was in for a long night after Moldova took the lead in the first minute. Alesandr Suvorov sent in a superb cross and Picusciac got the better of Dekel Keinan and headed the ball past Dudu Awat.
Matters continued to deteriorate for Israel in the next couple of minutes, with Ben Sahar cutting his knee badly on a drainage pipe, forcing coach Kashtan to replace him with Maor Buzaglo.
It took the Israelis almost half-an-hour to recover from the initial shock of conceding such an early goal and in the 31st minute only an acrobatic save by Moldovan keeper Stanislav Namasco kept his side in front.
Ben-Haim sliced Moldova's defense with an excellent break forward and his cross was headed well by Keinan, but Namasco got his hand on the ball and it went out off the crossbar.
Israel wouldn't have to wait much longer to score the equalizer, however, as nine minutes later Golan rolled the ball in.
Buzaglo put the striker through and despite Golan miss-hitting his shot, Namasco was helpless.
It would take just six short minutes more for the national team to take the lead for good.
Buzaglo lobbed a beautiful pass into the path of Saban, who subbed shaky right-back Shmuel Kozokin in the 38th minute, and the defender tucked the ball into the net.
Israel only just hung on to its lead before of the interval, with Picusciac squandering a superb chance by blasting the ball high above Awat's goal.
Two minutes into the second half the hosts came close to tying the score once more, but good fortune saved Awat's blushes after he spilled a Moldovan free-kick.
Israel was content with its slender lead and rarely threatened the Moldovan net in the second frame. The side's task was made much easier in the 64th minute after Victor Golovatenco was shown a straight red card for a ruthless tackle on Golan.
Despite going a man down, the hosts controlled the closing stages of the match, but Israel had no real trouble maintaining its lead and claimed the crucial three points.
Also Wednesday, Switzerland suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Luxembourg.
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