Supersub Ben Haim puts Israel back in contention

By Danny Caro, March 30, 2011
Israel is now in joint second place in Group F

Israel is now in joint second place in Group F

A second-half strike from supersub Tal Ben Haim lifted Israel to joint-second in Euro 2012 qualifying Group F as they overcame Georgia at the Bloomfield Stadium.

Having beaten Latvia 2-1 on Saturday, Luis Fernandez's men ran out deserved winners in a match that featured the comeback of captain Yossi Benayoun following a lengthy injury lay-off.

The Maccabi Petah Tikva player – not to be confused with the Portsmouth defender – was in the right place at the right time seven minutes after coming on to finish an excellent move involving Maor Buzaglo and Lior Refaelov.

One of the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Benayoun who came off the bench with 71 minutes on the clock.

Buzaglo came close with two free-kicks that landed on top of the net.

There were scenes of jubilation at the final whistle as Israel climbed above Georgia after inflicting their first defeat of the group stages.

Matchwinner Tal Ben Haim said: "It was a dream debut. I scored with my first kick. It was a great moment for me but the important thing is that the team won and we are back in with a chance to reach the Euro 2012 finals."

Israel manager Luis Fernandez said: "We were fresher than the Georgians and controlled the game. Welooked confident in defence and eventually the midfield and attack found a way through.

"We are back in the race to qualify and I always said we should not give up."

Israel's next group match is away in Latvia on June 4 followed by tough games against group leaders Greece and Croatia.

Israel: Dudu Awat, Tal Ben Haim, Dani Bondarv, Rami Gershon, Bebras Natcho (sub: Tal Ben Haim 52), Biram Kayal, Almog Cohen, Lior Refaelov (sub: Gil Vermouth 63), Elyaniv Barda (sub: Yossi Benayoun 71), Maor Buzaglo, Dekel Keinan. Subs not used: David Goresh, Gal Alberman, Talk Twatha, Ben Sahar

Last updated: 1:20pm, March 31 2011