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fernandez betar 224.88.(Photo by: Jeremy Last)
Israel, Fernandez humbled in Uruguay
Former Betar star Abreu nets a pair as hosts spoil new manager’s debut with 4-1 spanking.
New Israel coach Luis Fernandez did his best to remain positive despite seeing the national team fall to a 4-1 defeat to Uruguay in his debut on the sidelines on Wednesday night.

Israel was thoroughly outplayed in the friendly encounter in front of some 70,000 at the Estadio Centenario, and had the hosts not been wasteful in front of goal, Fernandez’s players could have found themselves on the wrong end of a far more embarrassing score line.

Nevertheless, the Frenchman tried to maintain an optimistic outlook and focus on the bright side, as he saw it, of the team’s thrashing in Uruguay.

“I’m a little disappointed with the result, but I’m pleased with the motivation and determination of the players,” Fernandez said. “We need to take into account that the players only just ended the season and that we were missing some injured players.”

Uruguay dominated from the start and after a couple of near chances took the lead in the 15th minute. Diego Forlan had space and time on the edge of the box and he coolly slotted the ball beyond Dudu Aouate for the opener.

Israel rarely ventured forward but when it did finally reach a chance, Lior Rafaelov made it count. Right-back Klemi Saban found the Maccabi Haifa midfielder in the box and Rafaelov’s clinical finish gave Israel an undeserved equalizer.

However, it would take Uruguay just seven minutes to move back in front. Saban saved Luis Suarez’s shot off the line, but Alvaro Pereira was first to the rebound to slot in his team’s second.

In the 75th minute, the hosts secured the win with the goal of the match. A superb team move completely broke down Israel’s defense and former Betar Jerusalem striker Sebastian Abreu had the honor of tapping in the ball into an empty net.

Nine minutes from time, Abreu scored his second of the night, piling the misery on Israel and giving Uruguay the emphatic victory it deserved.

“At 2-1 the match could have turned our way, but then we conceded the third goal,” Fernandez said. “You can see Uruguay is a top side, but you learn from these matches.”

Israel will complete its South American journey when it faces Chile on Sunday, with goalkeeper Ariel Harush and Ben Sahar returning home instead to join the under-21 side ahead of its crucial European Championship qualifier against Sweden next Friday.

“These matches allow us to test the players, but we didn’t come here to lose,” assistant coach Tal Banin said. “There were also some positive aspects and we need to remember that our goal is the first Euro 2012 qualifier in September and until then we have got plenty of time to prepare.”

Goalkeeper Aouate, who captained the side in the absence of Yossi Benayoun and single-handedly saved Israel from a humbling defeat, echoed his coach’s sentiment.

“We didn’t expect to lose 4-1, but we will take the positives from this match,” the Mallorca ’keeper said.

“I’m pleased with the way the guys fought, even though it is disappointing to lose. We are a new team and we are trying to gel and we will learn from this match.”
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