Ivory Coast hangs on to clip Israel

After being down 3-0, blue-and-white fights back, still falls 4-3 in Geneva friendly.

Israel soccer 311 (photo credit: Denis Balibouse/Reuters)
Israel soccer 311
(photo credit: Denis Balibouse/Reuters)
Israel coach Luis Fernandez was left with plenty to ponder after seeing his side’s defense breached time and again in Wednesday night’s 4-3 defeat to the Ivory Coast in Geneva, Switzerland in the blue-and-white’s final warm-up match ahead of next month’s crucial Euro 2012 qualifiers.
The national team had no answer for the Ivory Coast’s quick and powerful surges forward and can not afford a similar defensive display in its matches against Greece at Bloomfield Stadium on September 2 and against Croatia in Zagreb four days later.
The Ivory Coast sliced open Fernandez’s formation at will and could have easily won by a greater margin.
Israel, which is currently in third position in Euro 2012 qualifying Group F with 13 points from seven matches, needs at least four of a possible six points in its upcoming qualifiers to have a chance of finishing among the top two ahead of its final match against Malta on October 11.
Scoring opportunities were at a premium for the first 43 minutes of Wednesday’s friendly, but the Ivory Coast would still open a two-goal lead by the break.
After some great build-up play by Arsenal’s new signing Gervinho, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure smashed in the opener in the 44th minute before Didier Konan Ya doubled the advantage deep into first half stoppage time.
Moussa Kone scored the Ivorians third with a cheeky back heel in the 67th minute, but Israel took advantage of its opponent’s lackluster defense to get back into the match with two goals in three minutes.
Itai Shechter scored in the 76th minute after stealing the ball from Didier Zokora and Maor Melikson got Israel back within a goal after his shot took a wicked deflection and rolled across the line three minutes later.
However, Didier Drogba ensured the Ivory Coast would claim the win after slotting in a penalty in the 81st minute before Melikson scored a spot kick for the blue-and-white six minutes later.