Israel held Wales 0:0 in Cardiff as the Blue-and-White game plan worked to perfection, stifling the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and keeping their hopes alive for qualification to the Euro 2016 Tournament in France.
Maccabi Tel Aviv players again featured on center stage for Israel with defenders Eli Dasa, Omri Ben Harush, Eitan Tibi and Tal Ben Haim all in the starting lineup while superstar Eran Zahavi started up front. Former Maccabi striker Monas Dabbur again played as a striker alongside Zahavi.
Wales controlled the play for the majority of the first half, getting many chances against ‘keeper Ofir Marchiano, but the former Ashdod shot blocker was up to the task each time. With fine defensive play, Israel’s hopes remained alive after 45 minutes to pick up at least a point.
The second half saw Head Coach Eli Gutman bring in Tomer Hemed and the Yellow-and-Blue’s Tal Ben Chaim for Beram Kayal and Dabbur in order to increase their offensive output. However, Israel’s first corner kick of the match finally came in the 84th minute as Wales looked to find the winner in order to advance to the Euro 2016 tournament. But luckily for Israel it was not to be as Marchiano made a game saving stop late in the match and a last second goal was ruled correctly offside by the linesman and the Blue-and-White picked up the valuable point and allowed the country to continue dreaming.
Israel will face Cyprus in Jerusalem and Belgium in Brussels next month as Israel looks to advance to their first major competition since the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
After the match Maccabi Tel Aviv Captain Eran Zahavi said it was very tough to play against Wales:
“It was a hard away match and it was very important not to lose the game. The result reflected the style of game. We got the point we wanted and now we have to look ahead to Cyprus and Belgium and we’ll do what we need to and advance to the playoff. It wasn’t fun for me not to get a chance on goal but we had to do what we needed to do to get a point.”
Central defender Eitan Tibi played an important role in the 0:0 draw:
“We knew we were coming into a tough match and we didn’t even have a chance on goal. I don’t remember ever playing a game like this so defensively and sometimes you have to go into a match like this one for a result and a draw.”
Maccabi central defender and Israel captain Tal Ben Haim also commented on the match:
“It was hard playing a team like this on the road who were on the verge of qualifying. It took us to the 28th-30th minute to finally get away from the defensive play but we did what we needed to and followed the game plan perfectly.”