Israel frustrated by Azerbaijan

By Danny Caro, September 8, 2013
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Israel's hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil were dealt a major blow as they were held 1-1 by Azerbaijan on Saturday night.

Eli Guttman's decision to drop Yossi Benayoun backfired as they failed to capitalise on home advantage against the Group F also-rans.

With Russia and Portugal winning the previous night, three points were essential for Israel ahead of Tuesday's crunch clash against the Fabio Capello's Russia team in St Petersburg, but the odds now look stacked against them reaching the playoffs.

Israel defender Eytan Tibi came close to opening the scoring after 19 minutes but he was denied by the woodwork.

Rahid Amirgulyev gave Azerbaijan a shock lead with a long-range strike past Dudu Awat in the 61st minute and it needed a close-range finish from Itay Shechter 12 minutes later to save Israel, following good work from debutant Ofir Davidzada.

Disappointed Israel coach Eli Guttman said: "“It hurts me that another campaign is over.

"It is true that our group was always going to be tough, but I believed we could do it and we had some nice moments. We also had some not so nice ones, like tonight.

“As things currently stand, Russia and Portugal will end the group in the first two places, but we will have to play for our pride.

"This campaign makes me sad. You prepare for months and then it ends like this.”

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Israel: Dudu Awat, Tal Ben Haim, Gal Alberman (sub: Maharan Radi 72), Maor Melikson, Bebras Natcho, Eran Zahavi (sub: Lior Refaelov 62), Hen Ezra (sub: Elyaniv Barda 62), Etey Shechter, Sheran Yeini, Ofir Davidzada, Eytan Tibi

Scorer: Shechter 73

Booking: Tibi 53

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MATCH STATS

Israel
Shots: 14
On target: 6
Off target: 8
Goal: 1

Corners: 5
Fouls: 13

Cards: Yellow - 1, Red - 0

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Azerbaijan

Shots: 10
On target: 5
Off target: 5
Goal: 1

Corners: 3
Fouls: 13:

Cards: Yellow - 3, Red - 0

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GROUP F STANDINGS
1. Portugal Pl. 8, Pts. 17
2. Russia Pl. 7, Pts. 15
3. Israel Pl. 7, Pts. 12
4. Northern Ireland Pl. 7, Pts. 6
5. Azerbaijan Pl. 8, Pts. 5
6. Luxembourg Pl. 7, Pts. 3

REMAINING MATCHES
Sept 10 - Russia vs Israel
October 11 - Portugal vs Israel, Luxembourg vs Russia
October 15 - Israel vs Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan vs Russia, Portgual vs Luxembourg

Last updated: 1:01pm, September 12 2013