Not so easy in Luxembourg

By Simon Griver, October 16, 2008

Israel maintained its World Cup challenge with a 3-1 victory in Luxembourg but will take little comfort from another below par performance. The visitors could not have had a better start when in the opening minute Luxembourg keeper Jonathan Joubert fumbled a cross and then tugged at Omer Golan's short in his efforts to regain the ball. Yossi Benayoun steeped up to convert the penalty. But this was to be no stroll as Luxembourg showed the tenacity that saw them win in Switzerland last month. In the 14th minute Tal Ben Haim was booked for a clumsy challenge on the edge of the area and Rene Peters gave Dudu Awat no chance with a low free kick just inside the post. The home team nearly took the lead in the 37th minute when Gilles Bettmer cracked a superb 25 metre shot onto the post. Israel failed to create a single chance in the first half after the opening minute penalty as Luxembourg defended resolutely.

Israel looked more lively after the break and regained the lead in the 53rd minute when Biram Kayao on the edge of the area put Golan through to shoot past the advancing Joubert. Israel sealed victory in the 83rd minute when Salim Touame cut in on the right wing to hit a superb rising shot into the net.

"We knew it would not be easy," said Israel's manager Dror Kashtan. "But the main thing is that we achieved our target of getting the three points. We were much better in the second half when the midfield pushed up closer to the attack."

The win left Israel in second place in Group 2 with seven points - two points behind Greece and three points ahead of third-placed Switzerland.

Last updated: 4:16pm, October 16 2008