Israel vs. Azerbaijan, Final Score 1-1: Israel squander two points

Alex Grimm

Israel had the chance to keep pace with second placed Russia but squandered two critical points against Azerbaijan.

Israel faced Azerbaijan today at the Ramat Gan in Tel Aviv in what was the most critical match of this campaign for the home side. The match was largely an even affair with both teams exchanging shots. Israel had periods of slightly higher momentum but could not translate it into three points.

The stalemate means Israel are at 12 points, three behind second placed Russia with the two sides facing off in St. Petersburg. Portugal currently top the group with 17 points.

The hosts came out on the attack early on but Azerbaijan put a strong defense behind the ball. Bibras Natchko had the best opportunity but his mid range effort was deflected by the keeper. Israel continued their domination but interestingly it was Azerbaijan who had two strong efforts which were saved by Dudu Aouate.

The second half was far more dramatic as the hosts began with very sloppy plays and failed clearances. Azerbaijan took the initiative and pressed forward. After a failed clearance by the hosts at the 62nd minute, Rahid Amirquliyev received the ball from a teammate and volleyed into the corner.

Stunned, Israel began to put more men forward. Lior Rafaelov came on for Hen Erza while Elyaniv Barda came on for Eran Zehavi and the home side started peppering their opponents.

The efforts paid off as just 12 minutes after going behind, Ofir Davidadze advanced down the left flank to cross for Itey Schechter. At one apiece, Israel searched for the winner but Azerbaijan's back line remained disciplined and organized.

Israel (4-4-1-1): Aouate, Tibi, Ben Haim, Davidadze, Yeini, Alberman (Radi, 72'), Natcho, Erza (Rafaelov, 62'), Melikson, Zehavi (Barda, 62'), Shechter

Goals: Shechter (73')

Azerbaijan (4-5-1): Agayev, Sadygov, Ramaldanov (Levin, 71'), Allahverdiyev, Shukurov, Amirquliyev, Abishov (Huseynov, 81'), Aliyev, Ozkara, Abdullayev (Garayev, 45'), Dadasov

Goals: Amirquliyev (61')

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