Ben Haim keeps Israel in contention


A penalty from Portsmouth defender Tal Ben Haim keep alive Israel's Euro 2012 qualification hopes after they beat Latvia 2-1 in Riga on Saturday evening.

Israel forged ahead after 17 minutes when captain Yossi Benayoun finished off an excellent passing move with a powerful drive.

The visitors doubled their lead on the stroke of half time when right-back Yuval Shpungin surged into the area only to be tripped by Lazdiņš in the Latvia penalty area. Ben Haim confidently converted from the spot.

Latvia were given a lifeline after 63 minutes when Almog Cohen's handled into the area. Cauņa stepped up to halve the deficit.

Israel held on comfortably with Tomer Hemed and Eran Zahavi forcing superb saves from Latvia goalkeeper Andris Vaņins to repeat their 2-1 win over Latvia in Tel Aviv in March.

The win keeps Israel joint-second in the group, alongside Croatia and a point behind group leaders Greece whom they meet next.

Israel: Dudu Awat, Yuval Shpungin, Tal Ben Haim, Rami Gershon, Almog Cohen, Lior Rafaelov (sub: Tal Ben Haim79), Tomer Hemed, Maor Buzalgo (sub: Bebras Natcho 69), Dekel Keinan, Yossi Benayoun (capt), Eran Zahavi (sub: Eyal Golarsa 89). Subs not used: David Goresh, Gal Alberman, Talb Twaitha, Ben Sahar

Scorers: Benayoun 17, Ben Haim (pen) 43

Match stats

Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 3
Corners: 5
Fouls committed: 20
Yellow cards: 3
Red cards: 0

Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 10
Corners: 6
Fouls committed: 16
Yellow cards: 1
Red cards: 0

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