Israel vs. Northern Ireland: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Israel and Nothern Ireland battled to a 1-1 draw Tuesday in a Group F World Cup qualifying clash at Ramat Gan Stadium.
This match brought an end to group play for both sides.
Israel entered this contest knowing they were guaranteed third in the group, but there is no doubt that coach Eli Guttman was pushing for three points. The coach would undoubtedly like a new contract, and having a team parlay the quality 1-1 draw against Portugal from last week with a win to close out group play would have been a nice statement.
However, Steven Davis' late goal for visiting Northern Ireland side leveled the score and ensured the draw.
Meanwhile, it was an encouraging effort by Northern Ireland to earn the draw, but this side will now have to exit group play knowing they picked up just one win.
The majority of the first half passed in scoreless fashion.
The home side came out sluggish and nearly fell in an early hole. Northern Ireland striker Martin Paterson received a push from goalkeeper Dudu Aouate just eight minutes in. It could have been a penalty, but the referee let it go.
Shortly thereafter, Israel sprung to life and were earning better looks while being the more aggressive side. This finally paid off in the 43rd minute, when Eden Ben Basat netted the match's first goal off a quality header.
GOAL!!!!! 1-0: Eden Ben Basat (Israel) v Northern Ireland http://t.co/8Hb6TdSgV2— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) October 15, 2013
Israel could not keep the momentum going in the second half, as Northern Ireland seemed intent on snapping their losing streak.
Davis hit his leveler in the 72nd minute and Paterson had a chance to net the winner in the 77th minute. However, he was not able to slide it past the charging Dudu Aouate.
In all, Israel ended the match with 54 percent of possession and having fired off one more shot and two more on-target balls. Still, it is even in the only stat that counts.
Key Player Grades
Eden Ben Basat: A
Basat continued his magnificent form from this qualifying run:
5 – Eden Ben Basat has converted 5 of his 6 shots on target in the World Cup 2014 qualifiers with Israel. Fire.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) October 12, 2013
His pretty header provided his side's lone goal from this match, and he helped keep Northern Ireland's defense occupied all match.
Steven Davis: B
Davis' score rescued his side from another defeat.
That goal also helped rescue his grade. Davis wasn't terrible leading up to that goal, and he flashed some nice footwork. However, he also wasn't applying any pressure to the Israel defense, either.
|Eden Ben Basat||A|
|Tal Ben Haim||C|
What's next for both of these sides is dealing with the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Israel have some positives to build on. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland will have some serious work to do after licking their wounds from a rough and not very fruitful qualifying bid.
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