Israel v The Republic of Ireland
1 : 1
Dream Start, Nightmare Finish!
A fanatical Israeli support in Tel Aviv gave the Boy's in Green a noisy and vociferous welcome. They were quickly silenced as Clinton Morrison put Ireland ahead after only four minutes with a shot from a tight angle after a defensive mistake which saw Duffs deflected low cross find him at the near post. The 44,000 crowd in the packed stadium were utterly silenced. This was Morrison's third goal in four games and belied his frustrating club performances where he has been struggling to get first team football.
Israel came back at Ireland and within a minute Katan had a free header which went harmlessly wide. After 19 minutes Carr clumsily gave away a free-kick at the edge of the area, which Afek hit with some power and Given managed to parry. Ireland responded and Keane had a free header at the other end which he put over the bar.
Towards the end of the first half the referee bizarrely booked Stephen Carr for an allegedly time-wasting while taking a throw in, this yellow card means that Carr is suspended for the return leg in Dublin.
The second half saw Israel put more pressure on the Irish. A stuttering Irish defence in the 57th minute allowed Golan a shot from 14 metres out which he hit straight at Given. Benayoun had a chance after 62 minutes but blasted over the bar. Ireland seemed content to absorb the pressure rather than apply the killer blow and go for the second goal. On 67 minutes Keisi had another chance but hit the shot weakly at Given.
Robbie Keane was never able to exert much of an influence in the penalty area, Morrison
was unable to raise a gallop after half-time, while much of Duffs good work came in
deeper areas. With Israel pushing bodies forward they left space at the back,
after 72 minutes OShea broke down the left wing and cut the ball back to
Finnan at the edge of the area, but Awat just managed to push his shot from under
the crossbar and away for a corner.
After 74 minutes Roy Keane recklessly hacked Benayoun down and was given a yellow card, which rules him out of the return leg in Dublin.
Morrison's lack of
first team club football became very obvious as the game progressed as he seemed to tire
and in the second half he was having a marginal impact and was replaced by
Matt Holland five minutes from the end.
Morrison's substitution was a reflection of the Irish game plan, to lock things down with a packed five man midfield five minutes. Ireland held the lead for the next 86 minutes. But then in the ninety-first minute, the first of three minutes extra-time, the Israeli's in a sucker punch claimed an equaliser through substitute Suan in injury time. The travesty of this result was that the low shot from 20-metres out beat an unsighted Given who had hardly been tested until that stage!
The Irish responded with a rare attack on the Israeli goal and Duff saw a deflected
effort from distance loop over Awat, but the ball hit off the woodwork for a corner.
Teams: Israel: Awat, Gershon, Ben Haim, Benado, Afek (Balili 65 minutes), Keisi, Badir,
Tal (Nimni 65 minutes), Katan, Benayoun, Golan (Suan 74 minutes).
Republic of Ireland: Given, Carr, Cunningham, O'Brien, O'Shea, Finnan, Roy Keane,
Kilbane, Duff, Robbie Keane, Morrison (Holland 85 minutes).
Referee: V. Ivanov (Russia).
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