Israel and Romania played to an entertaining 1-1 draw on Saturday night in Bucharest in UEFA 2024 European Championship qualifiers as Oscar Gloukh scored a second-half stunner to split the points on the road.
Denis Alibec gave the hosts a 1-0 lead after ’keeper Omri Glazer couldn’t clear the ball to safety in the first half, but Gloukh found the equalizer with a terrific left-footed shot in the box as each squad picked up a point for their efforts.
The blue-and-white will now get ready for Belarus on Tuesday night back in Tel Aviv.
After the first set of games in this international window, Switzerland still sits atop of Group I after drawing 2-2 with Kosovo, Romania is next while Israel finds itself in third just a point away from second while Belarus, Kosovo and Andorra round out the rest of the group.
“This was one of our best games since I have been a coach and we have to remember this was in front of over 50,000 Romanian fans,” Israel head coach Alon Hazan said following the game.
“We played well in the first half until we gave up the goal and in the second half, we really controlled the play. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t win the game but we will look at what we could have done better, analyze the game, and prepare for Tuesday’s game.”
Gloukh also reflected on the game
“Sometimes things just work as they did in the second half and after a tough first half I had two choices, I could just hang my head or lift it up and play my game which is what I did. We are disappointed that we couldn’t win the game and I hit the post later, but we will continue on. We really believe and hope that we can make the Euros as we want to do it for the fans. We are proud to be here and want to make history.”
Manor Solomon spoke about the match as well
“We were better than Romania and we had many chances in the second half but we couldn’t take advantage of them. The group is pretty crazy as anything can happen, but we have to make sure that we win our games. I needed to be a bit better, I could have decided the game but I know there will be games that I will be able to. We showed that we are a better team than Romania and we saw that here on the road.”
The Israel National Team went with a starting lineup mixed with veterans and youngsters. It included some of the stars from this summer’s Under-20 World Cup squad that won the bronze medal in Argentina along with the Under-21 team that advanced to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games by being a semifinalist in the European Championships held in Georgia.
Red Star Belgrade goalkeeper Glazer was between the pipes, captain Eli Dasa, Miguel Vitor, Sean Goldberg and Roy Revivo anchored the defense, Dor Peretz, Neta Lavi and Red Bull Salzburg starlet Gloukh manned the midfield while Sagiv Yehezkel, Dor Turgeman and Tottenham Hotspur winger Solomon played up front.
The hosts, being cheered on by over 50,000 fans at the National Arena in Bucharest, pressed Israel from the get-go looking to trip up Alon Hazan’s squad into an early mistake, but veteran central defender Miguel Vitor calmed his troops but starting to take possession of the ball and move methodically up the pitch.
On the right wing, Sagiv Yehezkel began to send crosses into the box to threaten the Romania goal, but Edward Iordănescu’s side was able to clear the danger and keep the intended targets at bay as the match remained goalless after a quarter-hour of play.
The Romanians pulled themselves together and began attacking once again as the faithful pushed their team on, which soon paid off when captain Nicolae Staciu’s scorcher was fumbled by Israeli ’keeper Glazer that allowed Denis Alibec to pounce on the rebound and give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute.
Peretz looked to find the equalizer with a pair of chances that went awry as Hazan’s team couldn’t muster any real attack. The blue-and-white’s best offensive threats were held in check as the first half ended with Romania holding onto a 1-0 advantage.
A revitalized Israel came out of the break searching for a goal and that’s what it got just minutes into the second half as Gloukh sent a left-foot stunner into the back of the Romania goal to draw the blue-and-white even at 1-1.
Hazan’s men kept pressing immediately after the marker as they looked to take advantage of a Romania side that looked to be in disarray. Forward Shon Weissman came in for a quiet Turgeman in the 60th minute to refresh the front line, while more wholesale changes were on the way for Israel as Gaby Kanichowsky, Muhammed Abu Fani and Stav Lemkin all joined the fray as Yehezkel, Peretz and Goldberg made their way off the pitch.
Gloukh looked to give Israel the lead when he took the ball at midfield and went into the Romania box, but his attempt just grazed off the left post as the starlet fell to his knees in disappointment. At the other end George Puscas skied the ball over the bar as each side looked for the go-ahead goal with time timing down.
Once again Gloukh came blazing into the box and handed the ball off to Weissman, but his chance was cleared to safety. Abu Fani’s attempt went over the goal while Kanichowsky’s shot was just blocked in the nick of time as the Israeli blitz continued in earnest to find a winner. However, it was not to be as each side took a point.