Israel & North Macedonia play to 1:1 draw

Dov Halickman

Israel hosted North Macedonia in 2020 UEFA European Championship qualification and played to a 1:1 draw at Turner Stadium in Beer Sheva. Eran Zahavi broke the goalless deadlock early on in the second half, but Arijan Ademi found the equalizer minutes later to split the points. Coach Andi Herzog’s squad will now head to Ljubljana where they will face Slovenia in a critical Matchday 6 encounter.

The blue-and-white entered the Group G contest with a record of 2-1-1 after having fallen to Poland 4-0 last time out in June in Warsaw. There had been much concern over who would be the starting goalkeeper for the national team as Ariel Harush, Herzog’s first choice keeper had yet to play in his domestic league while Ofir Marciano, who ultimately did get the nod, had a recent run of poor performances. As well, Eran Zahavi entered the game a bit banged up while Monas Dabbur hasn’t yet played for La Liga side Sevilla and Eli Dasa was still without a club.

Captain Bibras Natcho had Israel’s first chance of the contest in the 5th minute when his off balance low liner was taken care of by Macedonia keeper Stole Dimitrievski while Ofir Marciano parried away an Enis Bardi free kick soon thereafter.

Following a disallowed Dabbur goal, Bardi launched a rocket towards the Israel goal, but Marciano was up to the task as he leaped into the air to tip the ball out to safety in the 27th minute. Three minutes later Eqzijan Alioski led a counter attack down the pitch but his laser just missed the target as Macedonia began to threaten the Israeli goal.

Natcho’s long distance rocket went right into Dimitrievski’s waiting hands in the 33rd minute as the sides couldn’t muster anymore quality chances in the first 45 minutes as the half came to a goalless end.

Dabbur hit the woodwork early on in the second half as Israel looked to put their stamp on the game and break the deadlock. With the blue-and-white buzzing around the visitor’s goal, youngster Manor Solomon made his way past a number of defenders, sent a sharp cross into the area from the right side directly to an oncoming Zahavi who put the ball home to give Israel a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute.

However, less than ten minutes later, Arijan Ademi headed home a Alioski free kick to draw North Macedonia even with Israel at 1:1 and silence the partisan crowd. Zahavi skillfully launched another missile towards the goal in the 73rd minute but his scorcher just missed while his former club teammate Dasa tried in vain from the right side to create some offense.

Zahavi once again tried to work his magic as the minutes began to tick off the clock but the Israeli superstar couldn’t find his second of the contest as the blue-and-white had to settle for a point.