Israel Beats Latvia 2-1
Israel put in a workman-like effort against a combative Latvia side, which ensured that Israel will still is in the hunt to qualify for Euro 2012. Before the game happened Israel knew that its chances of qualifying would end if they didn’t get a win against the Latvians. However Luis Fernandez lined the team up in an offensive formation hoping to score the first goal and gain the momentum against their opponents. Fernandez lined the team up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with just one defensive midfielder, Almog Cohen. Israel immediately started off on the front foot and five minutes into the game the Latvian goalkeeper made a hasty clearance, which allowed Maor Buzaglo to an attempt and audacious chip form the center line of the midfield, but unluckily hit the post. Israel conceded some silly free kicks, but was able to weather the Latvian attack early on. In the 19th minute, Israel got its deserved lead from sustained pressure. Maor Buzaglo dribbled on the top of the 18 yard box and laid the ball off to Eran Zahavi who’s shot was blocked. The rebound came to Tomer Hemed who laid it off for Yossi Benayoun just inside the 18. 1-0 Israel. Israel continued to pressure their opponents high up the field and it paid off when Yuval Spungin won the ball inside Latvia’s half and was fouled inside the 18 yard box. Tal Ben-Haim calmly converted the penalty for his first goal, and gave Israel a nearly unassailable 2-0 lead. However in the second half the Latvians continued to press for a goal, and they got one in a mistake from Almog Cohen, who handled the ball in the 18 yard box after trying to make a clearance. Latvia converted the penalty to make it 2-1 but Israel continued to press for a third goal when Tomer Hemed latched on to Bibras Natcho’s cross which was miraculously saved by the Latvian goalkeeper. Israel finished off the game with more pressure on their hosts. Although Israel won the game they will have to be better to beat Greece a home. However they will be buoyed by the return of Itay Shechter and Biram Kiyal both of whom are key players for the national team. Israel must win its next game in order to continue its hopes of qualification.