Portugal ekes out 3-3 draw with Israel

Fabio Coentrao scored with only seconds left Friday to give

Portugal a 3-3 draw with Israel and preserve the team’s chances of

qualifying for next year’s World Cup.

Coentrao capitalized on a defensive error by Israel goalkeeper

Dudu Aouate and knocked the ball into the net with about 30 seconds

to go in the third minute of injury time.

Israel stayed in second place in Group F with eight points,

ahead of Portugal on goal difference. Russia, which will play

Northern Ireland in Belfast on Saturday, leads the group with 12

points.

The top team in each of the nine European groups qualifies for

the tournament in Brazil, with the eight best second-place teams

reaching the playoffs.

”We could say this was a point won, but if we look at the

quality of the match we might say as well these were two points

lost,” Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. ”Now it is even more

complicated but the playoff place is still on us. We need to raise

the spirit of the players. We will try and correct the mistakes and

win the next match.”

Bruno Alves gave Portugal the lead in the second minute, heading

in a corner from Miguel Veloso. Tomer Hemed equalized in the 24th

and then set up Eden Ben Basat for another in the 40th.

”We started very well but with the game at 1-0 we couldn’t

manage that advantage,” Bento said. ”We lost the rhythm of the

match and conceded two goals quite surprisingly.”

In the 70th minute, Rami Gershon headed in a third for Israel.

But Helder Postiga pulled one back for the visitors in the

72nd.

”I am very, very disappointed,” Israel coach Eli Gutman said.

”I think our team played a team game, aggressive, modern

game.”

Portugal’s next game is away to Azerbaijan on Tuesday, while

Israel is away to Northern Ireland.