Gabigol! Israel keeps Euro dreams alive with 1-0 win over Belarus

Sep 12, 2023 | Football

Israel kept their 2024 European Championship dreams alive thanks to a late Gaby Kanichowsky goal as the blue-and-white downed Belarus 1-0. 

Head Coach Alon Hazan’s squad entered the game knowing that a win and 3-points was the only option for Israel a fate having drawn 1-1 in Romania over the weekend. However, Belarus played stifling defense throughout the encounter and kept clogging up the box every time Tottenham’s Manor Solomon and Red Bull Salzburg starlet Oscar Gloukh came near the area. 

As time wound down Israel looked for a hero to save the day and that’s when Gaby Kanichowsky stepped up to score from just outside of the box to snatch the points and keep the blue-and-white in the thick of the race for one of the available Euro 2024 spots that will take place next summer in Germany. 

In other Group I play, both Switzerland and Romania picked up wins over Andorra and Kosovo respectively and remain in front of Israel with four games left in the qualification phase. In order to qualify for the prestigious tournament for the first time in the blue-and-white’s history, they will most probably need to defeat Romania in Israel and will also have to defeat both Kosovo and Andorra away.  

However, for now the win keeps Israel and head coach Alon Hazan in the mix, “We knew that playing Belarus was going to be very difficult,” the relieved bench boss began. “This group has seen plenty of teams having a very tough time against Belarus and we will need to see how we can improve which is a lot easier to do after a win. I’m happy that the players didn’t lose faith and they believe in themselves. We have said for many years that Israeli players don’t have character and we showed that we certainly do. Finally, I want to wish everyone Shana Tova.”

“We are not happy and lost in the last minute which was very hard and it was very difficult,” Belarus head coach Alos Ferrer said. “The last 15-20 minutes we tired but we did have a chance late to score a goal. We lost too many balls and we knew Israel had some very dangerous players. But we were in control and the players sacrificed a lot. Right until the last minute when Israel scored we had the game the way we wanted.”

Manor Solomon reflected on the win, “It was tough but in the end it’s as a sweet victory. It seems that everything in this campaign has been difficult and nothing seems to be easy and we have been discussing that as well. But I guess this is what was supposed to happen and these are three super important points that allows us to keep moving forward.”

Veteran central defender Miguel Vitor who was given the honor to captain the team after Dor Peretz and Eli Dasa had been substituted off, was all smiles following the contest, “Sweet to score in the end, I think we deserved it and we should have scored much earlier. We had the chances to do it but we did it with difficulty, but I’m happy that in the end we scored and we made everybody happy.”

The Israel National Team came out to the roar of a packed Bloomfield Stadium with close to 30,000 fans almost hanging from the rafters. Alon Hazan made a pair of changes to his starting lineup that featured in Romania as he inserted Shakhtar Donetsk central defender Stav Lemkin who starred for both the Under-20 and Under-21 teams this summer in place of an injured Sean Goldberg and Shon Weissman replaced Dor Turgeman up front.

Omri Glazer started in goal after a shaky performance in Bucharest, Eli Dasa, Miguel Vitor, Roy Revivo and Lemkin were on the back line, Neta Lavi, Dor Peretz and Oscar Gloukh manned the midfield while Sagiv Yehezkel, Manor Solomon and Weissman were on the attack. 

Gloukh got busy early and he teamed up with Solomon to threaten the Belarus goal but the latter’s cross went off a defender while Solomon’s next chance in the box went over the bar as the game remained goalless after a quarter hour of play. The blue-and-white kept pouring on the offense in search of a strike but it was the visitors who came close with both Valeri Bocharov and Sergei Karpovich missing from in close.

Yehezkel glided in from the right and sent the ball to the front of the goal but his intended address was nowhere to be found, while Glazer needed to be sharp at the other end of the pitch as he pawed Bocharov’s attempt to safety at the 27 minute mark. Belarus kept pressing with more opportunities by Artem Kontsevoi and Kirill Pechenin while an active Yehezkel whipped ten ball into the box but Weissman came up empty on his try.

As play slowed down in the hot and humid evening, Weissman’s header missed the mark, while Israel kept getting stopped in their tracks near the area due to the Belarusian size and physicality as the match headed into the break deadlocked at 0-0.

A renewed optimism swept the stadium as the players hit the pitch to begun the second half but once again Solomon and Gloukh were both stymied by the Belarus defense as Yehezkel’s scorcher was saved by Maksim Plotnikov. Gloukh moved in on goal but his first attempt was saved while his second went wide left as Hazan made wholesale changes with Gaby Kanichowsky, Muhammad Abu Fani and Dor Turgeman all coming on in the 65th minute. 

Two more substitutes entered the fray soon thereafter as Ramzi Safouri and Tai Baribo took their places on the field as Solomon and Gloukh again teamed up in the box but the latter skied his chance over the goal. Safouri’s header went off a defender, Solomon’s twister was caught by the Belarus keeper, while Gloukh’s low liner was parried away. 

As the game headed into extra time, Israel kept pounding the ball into the box from every angle as they desperately tried to find the winner as Gaby Kanichowsky was finally was able to break through the Belarus defense and score the decisive goal to keep the blue-and-white’s Euro 2024 dreams alive.

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