Israel defeats Georgia 1-0 in Euro 2012 qualifier

Tal Ben Haim’s second-half goal gave Israel a 1-0 victory over

Georgia on Tuesday to boost the team’s hopes of qualifying for the

2012 European Championship.

The substitute winger struck in the 59th minute at a packed

Bloomfield Stadium to lead Israel to its second win in four days,

after the 2-1 victory over Latvia on Saturday.

Israel rose to third in Group F, level on 10 points with Croatia

but trailing on goal difference. Greece leads with 11 points.

Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun made his first appearance

since injuring his Achilles in September, coming on as a

71st-minute substitute as a resolute Israel wore down the Eastern

Europeans.

”I am very happy with my team. We played a complete and serious

game,” Israel coach Luis Fernandez said. ”The crowd helped us a

lot. The players deserved it because they played seriously and

concentrated throughout the game.”

Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia was satisfied despite failing to

build on the shock 1-0 win over Croatia on Saturday.

”It wasn’t a bad game,” he said. ”In the second half, both

teams played more attacking football. We made one mistake and paid

the price for it. We tried to get one back but it was after a very

tough game against Croatia and it was too much for us.”

There were few chances in the first quarter of an hour, the

first shot on goal coming when Israel’s Maor Buzaglo cantered into

the penalty area before unleashing a stinging effort that

goalkeeper Nukri Revishvili saved in the 15th minute.

Israel continued to press for the remainder of the half without

really troubling Revishvili.

The Georgians, meanwhile, were limited to long-range efforts as

the Israeli defense stood firm.

Otar Martsvaladze had the first real opportunity for Georgia in

the 53rd. But although he made some space for himself after

carrying the ball into the penalty area, the striker scuffed his

shot wide.

Israel broke when Ben-Haim finished off a neat move started by

Beram Kayal.

Ketsbaia immediately attempted to inject more zest into his side

with the introduction of Vladimir Dvalishvili. The move nearly paid

dividends a minute later when the visitors won a dangerous free

kick and the Maccabi Haifa striker headed just over the bar.

Dvalishvili had a much easier chance to equalize in the 71st

minute after Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate missed the ball, but the

striker hoofed it over the bar.

Lineups:

Israel: Dudu Aouate, Dekel Keinan, Rami Gershon, Dani Bondar,

Tal Ben Haim, Almog Cohen, Beram Kayal, Bebras Natcho (Tal Ben

Haim, 52), Lior Rafaelov (Gili Vermut, 63), Maor Buzaglo, Elyaniv

Barda (Yossi Benayoun, 71).

Georgia: Nukri Revishvili, Lasha Salukvadze, Akaki Khubutia,

Kakha Kaladze, Aleksandr Amisulashvili, Zurab Khizanishvili, Jaba

Kankava, Murtaz Daushvili (David Kvirkelia, 45), Alexander Lashvili

(Vladimir Dvalishvili, 63), Levan Kobiashvili, Otar Martsvaladze

(David Siradze, 73).