Israel vs. Portugal, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Final score 3-3, Fabio Coentrão rescues a late point

Alex Grimm

A last-gasp equaliser from Fábio Coentrão has saved Portugal from an embarrassing defeat in Israel, though qualification is still far from certain.

With the spoils shared in a 3-3 draw, these sides stay level on eight points, four behind a Russia side who have a game in hand against Northern Ireland. Israel sit second, with Portugal -- who were expected to record a comfortable victory here -- a place behind.

The draw comes despite Portugal getting off to a great start, with defender Bruno Alves heading them into the lead from a corner after just a couple of minutes. They looked in comfortable control, and a routine victory -- if not a rout -- looked like it would be in the offing.

However, they failed to capitalise on their possession and chances in the following moments, with Fábio Coentrão forcing Dudu Aouate into a save before Tal Ben Haim made an important intervention on a Silvestre Varela cross. Then, out of pretty much nothing, Israel levelled the scores.

Having struggled to make the ball stick in attack, the ball came to Mallorca striker Tomer Hemed in the box, who hit the ball on the turn into the bottom corner. The hosts looked immediately more confident, no longer being pinned back by their Iberian opponents.

But, it was still Portugal who would have the next great chance of the game, when Hélder Postiga rounded the Israeli goalkeeper before slipping, eventually scuffing his shot wide of goal. Paulo Bento's side were denied a penalty after Cristiano Ronaldo was pushed in the box, and the pressure was cranked up even further on the Portuguese when Israel took the lead.

With five minutes to go to half time, another quick counter-attack saw Eden Ben Basat tear through on goal before rifling the ball unstoppably beyond Rui Patricio. After Ben Haim made a crucial last-man tackle on Postiga on the stroke of the whistle, Portugal trudged off in arrears, and in a mess.

The second half started as much of the first had played out -- with Portugal in control but looking vulnerable defensively. When the ball fell to Ben Basat on the edge of the box ten minutes after the restart , Israel really ought to have doubled their advantage, though his shot went wide.

Israel weren't the most sound at the back either, continuing to rely on some good old fashioned last-ditch defending. Eytan Tibi nicked the ball from a poised Postiga just in time, before Miguel Veloso's long range piledriver narrowly cleared the bar from the ensuing corner kick.

Portugal's constant barrage of balls into the box were causing problems, and substitute striker Carlos Martins -- brought on in place of holding midfielder Veloso -- almost took advantage soon after coming on, though he volleyed wide from inside the area, minutes before his low shot from distance found the arms of Aouate.

Then -- and you probably know the script by now -- Israel shocked again. With 20 minutes left a corner was headed in by Rami Gershon for 3-1. This time, though, Portugal ensured their response was immediate. Ronaldo ran right through the porous defence before sliding the ball through for Postiga who duly converted. Having squandered countless chances throughout the game, this opportunity was one he couldn't miss.

Aouate was called into action to keep out Postiga from inside the box a couple of minutes later, as the Portuguese barrage continued. Eventually, they had the equaliser. After Hugo Almeida headed against the crossbar Coentrão followed in to bundle the ball over the line, sparing their blushes in stoppage time.

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