Israel beats Latvia 2-1 in Euro 2012 qualifier

Yossi Benayoun scored an early goal as Israel beat Latvia 2-1 in

a Euro 2012 qualifier on Saturday to move level on points with

Group F leader Croatia.

The visitors took the lead through captain Benayoun’s strike in

the 19th minute before Israel doubled its tally with a penalty kick

from Tal Ben Haim in the 43rd.

Latvia pulled a goal back when midfielder Aleksandrs Cauna

converted the second penalty kick of the game in the 62nd.

Israel held off several Latvian attempts to equalize in injury

time to record its second 2-1 win over the Baltic country in Group

F qualifying.

The win moved Israel into provisional second place in Group F

qualifying with a total of 13 points from seven games. Croatia

leads the group on goal difference. Latvia trails in fifth place

with just four points from its opening six games.

Latvia’s Cauna had the game’s first shot on goal in the fourth

minute, but it was Israel midfielder Bar Buzaglo who came closest

to opening the scoring when his long-range shot struck the post in

the sixth.

But Israel didn’t have to wait long for Chelsea midfielder

Benayoun to break the deadlock with a 14-metre (14-yard) strike

placed in the bottom corner beyond the reach of Latvia goalkeeper

Andris Vanins.

Latvia struggled to create chances in the first half and Israel

increased its lead when Ben Haim converted a penalty after Latvia

midfielder Artis Lazdins fouled Yuval Shpungin.

The home team, missing the experienced Maris Verpakovskis and

Andrejs Rubins, entered the second half with more confidence and

was able to capitalize with a penalty kick in the 62nd minute

following a handball by Almog Cohen.

Lineups:

Latvia: Andris Vanins, Oskars Klava, Ritus Krjauklis, Deniss

Ivanovs, Artis Lazdins, Aleksandrs Cauna, Maksims Rafalskis (Jurijs

Zigajevs, 28), Aleksejs Visnakovs (Ritvars Rugins, 71), Artjoms

Rudnevs, Kaspars Gorkss, Andrejs Pereplotkins (Edgars Gauracs,

60).

Israel: Dudu Aouate, Yuval Shpungin, Tal Ben Haim I, Rami

Gershon, Almog Cohen, Lior Refaelov (Tal Ben Haim II, 79), Tomer

Hemed, Maor Bar Buzaglo (Bebras Natcho, 69), Dekel Keinan, Yossi

Benayoun, Eran Zahavi (Eyal Golasa, 89)