Fernandez’s men sputter to listless 0-0 draw

Israel unable to produce many chances on the road against Georgia in second qualifier.

Fernandez 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Fernandez 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel remained undefeated in its Euro 2012 qualifying campaign on Tuesday night, but it can hardly be satisfied with its 0-0 draw against Georgia at the Boris Paichadze National Stadium in Tbilisi.
The national team followed up its disappointing display in last Thursday’s 3-1 home victory over Malta with another mediocre performance and never really threatened to take all three points in Georgia.
Luis Fernandez’s side seemed more than content with the goalless deadlock and squandered a superb opportunity to claim a vital away win in Group F, which also includes Croatia, Greece and Latvia.
“I’m pleased with the result,” Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate said. “The poor pitch didn’t allow us to develop an attacking game and we consider the draw a good result.
“Away matches are always difficult and all the players were pleased at the end of the encounter. We used to lose these kinds of matches in the past so we are happy with this point and are focusing on the future.”
Israel hosts Croatia in its next qualifier on October 9 before visiting Greece in Athens three days later.
Georgia had all the possession at the start of Tuesday’s match and it reached its first chance after eight minutes, with Maccabi Haifa striker Vladimir Dvalishvili failing to capitalize on Aouate’s poor clearance.
Eight minutes later, the woodwork came to Israel’s rescue.
Gogita Gogua released a stunning free kick from 30 meters out, but fortunately for the visitors his shot smashed against the crossbar.
After staving off Georgia’s early pressure, Israel got a foothold in the match, but it rarely ventured forward and seemed far more concerned with not conceding.
The Georgians were far from impressive themselves and Aouate was barely troubled.
Fernandez slightly changed the team’s formation by introducing Eran Zehavi in place of Tamir Cohen in the 61st minute, with the Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder giving Israel another attacking option.
In the 66th minute, Zehavi almost surprised Nukri Revishvili with his free kick from 20 meters out, but the goalkeeper was alert and cleared the danger.
Gili Vermut replaced Lior Rafaelov 15 minutes from time and he almost created Israel’s winner in the 87th minute.
Last season’s Premier League player of the year surged forward and found Zehavi in the box, but his shot was blocked and the encounter would end in a deserved 0-0 draw.
Israel U21 ousted from Euros Earlier Tuesday, Israel’s under- 21 national team missed out on a place in the playoffs for the 2011 European Under-21 Championships despite thrashing Montenegro 5-0 in Rishon Lezion.
Israel finished second in Group 6 with 16 points, but results in other groups didn’t go its way on Tuesday and it failed to finish among the four best runners-up and join the 10 qualifying group winners in the playoffs.
The Israel young stars defeated Sweden 2-1 on the road in coach Guy Luzon’s first match in charge last Friday and needed just two minutes to break the deadlock on Tuesday thanks to Bibras Natcho’s goal.
Maor Buzaglo’s brace (27, 57) secured the win, with Natcho (77) and Rahamim Tzukul (86) completing the impressive victory that proved to be of little importance.