Israel make their point in Belfast

By Danny Caro in Belfast, August 13, 2009
Follow Danny on Twitter
Israel secured the draw against Northern Ireland

Israel secured the draw against Northern Ireland

A first-half strike from Elyaniv Barda earned Israel a draw following an encouraging performance in an international friendly against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.

Ahead of next month's World Cup qualifying double-header against Latvia and Luxembourg, Israel boss Dror Kashtan saw his squad performing for the first time in four months.

Going into the match, Israel had not beaten their opponents in six previous meetings.

Booed throughout the first half, Israel mustered the first opening when Avihai Yadin's long-range effort forced a smart take from Birmingham keeper Maik Taylor.

We played a very strong and physical team, similar to Moldova and Latvia so it was a good practice game. We controlled the midfield and most of the game, and succeeded in moving the ball and creating chances.

Dror Kashtan

The hosts forged ahead midway through the first half. Upended by Tamir Cohen, Gavin McCann dusted himself down, a curled a delicious free-kick past Dudu Awat, although the Israel stopper should have done better, having got a big hand on to the shot.

Israel levelled almost immediately. A smart move involving Roberto Colautti and Aviram Bruchyan saw the latter send in a low cross where Barda was on hand to tap home at the far post.

Northern Ireland then had a great chance to regain the lead. A deep cross from Baird was nodded goalwards by Kyle Lafferty but Awat, moving across his goalline, showed calm handling.

Israel finished the half the stronger with Bolton's Tamir Cohen heading over following a header back across goal from the industrious Colautti.

Kashtan's men continued to threaten. Barda's corner was headed goalwards by Dekel Keinan only for Damian Johnson to head off the line.

As the home crowd started to become restless, Israel continued to take the game to Ireland, and looked much more threatening.

The flow of the second half was disrupted by a series of substitutions with Awat an early casualty for Nir Davidovitch. Liverpool's Yossi Benayoun was taken off after 55 minutes.

Colautti was denied a winner 10 minutes from time. A smart turn and shot forced a brilliant block by the legs of substitute keeper Tuffey.

The game finished 1-1, with Kashtan given plenty of food for thought.

Israel captain Yossi Benayoun said: "We played a very strong and physical team, similar to Moldova and Latvia so it was a good practice game. We controlled the midfield and most of the game, and succeeded in moving the ball and creating chances."

Manager Dror Kashtan commented: "Northern Ireland are a very good team, but I was disappointed with the goal we conceded.

"I'm glad about one thing. The things we practiced on the training ground, we tried and did them, and we succeeded in stopping Irelandfrom getting near our goal."

    Last updated: 9:56am, August 14 2009