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Republic of Ireland
WC Qualification Europe
26 March 2013
• Windsor Park, Belfast
Referee: H. Kaasik
• Attendance: 7300
L. Refaelov 77'
E. Ben Basat 84'
Northern Ireland are now winless in 13 international matches, with their strong home performance and 54% possession left unrewarded. The Boys in Green struggled to create chances for all their attacking effort, with two speculative penalty appeals and Steven Davis' close range effort that forced a save from Dudu Aouate representing their closest efforts. Israel attacked intelligently when they got the chance and looked threatening through the pace of Itay Shechter and Eden Ben Basat. Each of their goals took place after a quick break out from defence, and each relied on the good work of lone striker Shechter who helped deflect the ball into the path of substitute Lior Refaelov for the opening goal, then held up the ball superbly for Ben Basat to finish expertly into the top corner for his fourth goal in four World Cup Qualifying matches. Swansea fans have cause to be pleased following Shechter's performance, with his endeavour and intelligent running down the channels forming a crucial part of his side's attack as he impressed after replacing the suspended six-goal top scorer Tomer Hemed.
Michael O'Neill will be disappointed with the late defeat following two clinical attacks, as Northern Ireland had looked poised to seek a late winning goal after a period in the ascendency. Israel will however be thrilled, as victory allowed the Blue and Whites to move back into second place ahead of Portugal, who won 2-0 away in Azerbaijan earlier today. Eli Guttmann's side would have beaten their Iberian opponents on Friday but for an agonising goal to draw 3-3, but their victory in Windsor Park will ensure their international break comes to a satisfactory end.
90' + 4'
The referee blows the full-time whistle.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Chris Brunt
90' + 3'
Chris Brunt receives a booking for a late challenge in the centre circle, meaning he will miss Northern Ireland's next qualifier.
David Healy, goal-scoring hero of Northern Ireland's classic 1-0 victory against England, has a late chance for the Green and White Army after his introduction in place of Martin Paterson. He receives the ball from Steven Davis on the left edge of the box before turning and attempting to curl a shot into the bottom right corner, but Aouate is in control as he stops the effort.
Northern Ireland look deflated following their second concession, and Eli Guttmann gives Itay Shechter a well-deserved rest following a spirited performance capped off with a key role in each goal by bringing on the experienced Yossi Benayone for the last ten minutes.
Assist Itay Shechter
Goal Eden Ben Basat
Goal Ben Basat! Itay Shechter shows his strength to hold up the ball by the right corner flag following a ball down the right channel aimed into his path, before dribbling away from his two markers with an outstanding piece of skill. He looks up and finds Eden Ben Basat on the edge of the box with a neat pull-back and the Toulouse attacker slams the ball into the roof of the goal to net in his fourth consecutive World Cup Qualifier.
Natcho attempts to loft a free kick into the box but the Northern Ireland defence clears.
Gareth McAuley jumps into Aouate as the keeper attempts to catch a cross, causing him to fall back into the net. The home crowd appeal for a penalty but the referee awards a foul.
22-year-old attacker Josh Magennis earlier appeared in place of left-winger Shane Ferguson, and following the goal Michael O'Neill has now introduced the mercurial Paddy McCourt, known for his prodigious dribbling ability, in place of the defensive midfielder Sammy Clingan.
Chris Teale at Windsor Park: "That is so disappointing for Northern Ireland. Israel play a decent passing move, the home side's defence is caught napping and made to pay by substitute Lior Rafaelov, who lashes home a left-foot shot past Roy Carroll."
Assist Itay Shechter
Goal Lior Rafaelov
Lior Refaelov puts Israel in the lead after an intelligent Israeli attack down the right flank. Eden Ben Basat and Eran Zahavi combine outside the right edge of the box to thread a neat pass to Itay Shechter. Heavily marked, Shechter manages to divert the ball towards Refaelov who evades his marker on the left edge of the box before placing the ball into the bottom right corner beyond Roy Carroll. It's a demoralising blow for the Greenand White Army, who had until now looked in the ascendency.
McAuley attempts to get to the header from the right flank but substitute Eran Zahavi is able to clear.
Northern Ireland press Israel in their own half and win the ball on the left flank. Lafferty takes the opportunity to curl in a dangerous cross which is headed out for a corner at the near post.
Northern Ireland retain the ball in their own half but Israel are able to make an interception, from which Yuval Shpungin is able to get forward from right-back before giving the ball away with a wayward cross.
Israel boss Eli Guttmann makes a straight swap in bringing on Lior Refaelov for his fellow attack-minded midfielder Maor Melikson.
Northern Ireland have enjoyed an impressive last few minutes, which continues as Shechter is dispossessed on attempting to control Eden Ben Basat's neat pass.
McGinn turns neatly on the right flank and looks to beat his marker Gershon for pace, but the left-back's challenge does enough to halt the attack.
Paterson appeals for a penalty after darting in front of the nervous keeper Aouate before falling to the ground, after the keeper had hesitantly come off his line to claim a low cross that Yeini cleared despite his claim.
Roy Carroll saves a poorly-struck shot from the edge of the box.
Northern Ireland attack down the right flank but their pass across the edge of the box is cleared.
Chelsea's Yossi Benayoun is warming up on the touchline. The experienced Israeli international will look to add guile to his side's attack.
Natcho loses out to Brunt in a challenge in the centre of the park, but wins a free kick from the referee.
Chris Teale at Windsor Park: "Another great chance for Northern Ireland and it falls to their captain Steven Davis. The midfielder receives the ball just outside the box after a Chris Brunt cross and thunders in a shot that cannons off the crossbar and safely away with Dudu Aouate beaten. The hosts are once again in the ascendancy here."
Lafferty advances forward from left-back and aims a shot at the near post which flies narrowly wide. The Green and White Army are looking more dangerous on the hour mark.
Steven Davis hits the bar! After Israel's attack broke down after Natcho's pass was intercepted, Northern Ireland broke quickly down the right flank through McGinn and Davis was able to pick the ball up on the edge of the box. His well struck shot was deflected by a defender at close range and rebounded off the upright.
Northern Ireland retain possession in the centre of the pitch but are pressed back into their own half by Israel. McGinn is however able to win a throw-in on the right flank and Northern Ireland resume their attack.
Shechter received the ball on the right edge of the box following an Israel throw-in from the right flank. His shot was blocked but the ball rebounded into the path of Maor Melikson inside the box, and keeper Roy Carroll was forced into action to save the midfielder's shot.
Paterson does well to reach a long ball down the left channel, and holds the ball under pressure from Ben Haim, allowing Ferguson to cross. His cross is blocked but his team-mates move forward and retain the ball on the edge of the Israel box before the move breaks down.
Davis takes a corner from the left flank and McAuley attempts to head in at the near post but is unable to connect with the delivery.
Tibi passes back to Aouate under pressure from Steve Davis, and Northern Ireland win a throw-in on the right flank after a challenge from Gershon.
The referee gets the second half underway at Windsor Park!
Israel keep Northern Ireland waiting before emerging for the second half. The Blue and Whites need to win to keep pace with rivals Portugal, who won 2-0 away in Azerbaijan after goals from Bruno Alves and Hugo Almeida.
Chris Teale at Windsor Park: "Half-time at Windsor Park and Northern Ireland will consider themselves unlucky to go in with the scores at 0-0 after having the best of the opening period. It didn’t start well as Israel hit the post through Itay Schechter but then the home side grew into the game and enjoyed good periods of possession. Their best chance came after some good work by Martin Paterson, whose cross was nearly turned in by Steven Davis but for a superb save by Dudu Aouate. Northern Ireland will fancy a win if they can keep this up in the second half, as the visitors have offered little in attack so far."
45' + 1'
The referee blows the half-time whistle at Windsor Park.
Natcho attempts to find Shechter with a through ball down the right channel but the forward is offside.
Northern Ireland are now passing the ball calmly across their own half as the half-time whistle approaches.
Israel are looking to retain the ball until half-time after coming under heavy pressure in the last few minutes, but Gareth McAuley wins the ball and Northern Ireland attack down the left flank before Ferguson's cross drifts over the head of Paterson.
Brunt delivers another corner from the right flank, but Aouate is able to punch the inswinging delivery away at the far post.
Gershon concedes a free kick in the centre circle following an aerial challenge. Brunt is allowed to pick up the ball on the right edge of the box after a poor effort from his marker, and he puts in a low cross that is put out for a corner by Yuval Shpungin. Northern Ireland are looking dangerous.
Sammy Clingan takes a shot from outside the edge of the box but his effort flies wide.
Israel take a free kick from the right flank but Northern Ireland's defence is able to clear. Sheran Yeini attempts a shot from outside the box but his effort flies well over the bar.
Yellow Card Jonny Evans
Bibras Natkho appeals to the referee for a foul near the centre circle but is unsuccessful.
Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate is forced into a save! After good work from McGinn, Paterson bursts to the right by line to receive a measured first-time pass from right-back Aaron Hughes and shrugs off his marker Eytan Tibi before crossing low in towards the near post. Steven Davis is on-hand to attempt the finish from the edge of the six yard box, but Aouate is able to save. The ball breaks to two more Northern Ireland players who are able to take shots but this time the Israel defence is able to block the shots.
Brunt plays a one-two with the overlapping Lafferty on the left flank before shooting from outside the left edge of the box. He is well known for his powerful shooting from range but this effort is poorly hit. Paterson looks to deflect the shot into the far corner but his effort goes wide.
Northern Ireland win a free kick on the right flank and Jonny Evans wins the header running towards the near post but Rami Gershon heads away the attempt on goal.
Ben Basat looks to find Shechter as he attempts to burst down the left flank, but his marker is effective and blocks the attempted pass.
Aaron Hughes and Steven Davis show good composure in their own half to withstand pressure from Eden Ben Basat and launch a diagonal ball to Shane Ferguson, but the move breaks down.
Northern Ireland combine neatly on the left flank and Steven Davis is able to aim a through ball into the heart of the box towards Martin Paterson, but the lone striker is unable to reach the ball as Tal Ben Haim slides in with a well time challenge to win the ball.
Israel retain possession in their own half and it is only Northern Ireland's front line that press, allowing Israel to aim a long ball forward. The Blue and Whites are unable to keep the ball however allowing the Green and White army to win the ball.
Chris Teale at Windsor Park: "It's been a quiet start to proceedings at Windsor Park after a slightly delayed start. The only moment of note came in just the third minute, as Swansea man Itay Schechter hit the post with a header at the near post. Other than that, both sides seem to be feeling their way into this game but are unable to keep possession for very long."
Niall McGinn advances down the right flank and curls in a cross that narrowly evades Chris Brunt.
Northern Ireland have good possession deep in Israel's half. Davis tries to free the overlapping Lafferty, but woefully overhits his pass and the ball eventually goes out of play.
Northern Ireland are struggling to hold onto the ball, booting it long - and straight back to Israel - far too often. The away side have made the better start to the match.
Israel are pressing well and winning possession high up the pitch. The ball breaks to Melikson, but his left-footed shot from the edge of the box drifts harmlessly over the bar.
OFF THE BAR! Shechter breaks forward and fires in a cross that is deflected behind for a corner by McAuley. A short corner releases Ben Basat by the by-line, who drills in a near-post cross that is whacked against the woodwork by Shechter.
Clingan is brought down near the half-way line and Brunt floats a cross into the box that is easily claimed by Aouate.
With the anthems sung and hands shook, Northern Ireland get the match underway.
There's a minutes silence for the recently departed Malcolm Brodie.
The players make their way onto the pitch and prepare for the national anthems. Northern Ireland will be bouyed by their record against Israel, boasting an unbeaten record against the Blue and Whites.
Israel are currently sitting in third place in Group F and can draw level with second-placed Portugal if they beat Northern Ireland tonight. The home side have gone eight games without a win. Martin Paterson starts up front on his own for Northern Ireland while the experienced Sammy Clingan is named in midfield. Swansea striker Itay Shechter comes into the Israel line-up in place of suspended top scorer Tomer Hemed, while Maharan Radi is named in place of Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal.
Israel XI: Aouate; Spungin, Tibi, Ben-Haim, Gershon; Radi, Yeini, Natcho; Melikson, Shechter, Ben Basat. Substitutes: Ariel Harush, Amos, Keinan, Shish, Alberman, Kayal, Refaelov, Zahavi, Benayoun, Reikan, Barda, Atar.
Northern Ireland XI: Carroll, Hughes, McAuley, Evans, Lafferty; McGinn, Brunt, Clingan, Davis, Ferguson; Paterson. Substitutes: Mannus, McGovern, McGivern, Cathcart, Bruce, McCann, McCourt, Norwood, Evans, Healy, McKay, Magennis,
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary of the World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Israel. I'm @arthurvirgo and you can get involved on Twitter @GoalUK. First up, here are tonight's line-ups...
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