Israel defeated Montenegro 3-1 at the Gradski Stadion in Podgorica as three second half goals all assisted by Mohammad Abu Fani gave the blue-and-white the win. Eran Zahavi, Manor Solomon and Gadi Kinda found the back of the goal while Fatos Beciraj pulled one back for the hosts over the course of the friendly match.
Willi Rutensteiner’s squad will now head to Portugal where they will face Cristiano Ronaldo and the reining European Champions just ahead of the Euro Tournament where group stage play will be featured in 11 different countries.
“In total all did well and I was very impressed by Abu Fani by coming on and showing good attitude after this long season,” Ruttensteiner said. “I am also very happy for Gadi Kinda who came from America and he was excellent. We did a great job and the atmosphere is good and united. Portugal is preparing for the Euros, but the players are very motivated to play against Ronaldo, and top Premier League players on Wednesday.”
Gadi Kinda who scored the third goal of the match spoke about the game that was, “I think we had some good moments in the first half but the play wasn’t at the highest level. I am happy that in the second half the game opened up for us and we scored some goals.”
“I waited for this opportunity for a long time,” Kinda said about playing in his first game with the National Team. “I am happy that I finally had the opportunity to play for the National Team which is every child’s dream. It was very sweet to score in my debut.”
Kinda continued, “Most of my goals come from my left foot, although I don’t know why. I’m happy that I got the ball and it went into the goal. It’s very important to me and I really like to score.”
“I think we played well today and we have a bit of confidence. We have to continue our good form. Everyone knows that Portugal is a very strong team, but we will give our maximum.”
“The better team won the game,” Eran Zahavi began. “The young players who got a chance to play did very well and it shows that we have a bright future ahead. I’m proud of the team and now we have to ready for Portugal.”
Manor Solomon also reflected on the win, “We played well against a strong national team at a tough stadium away from home. Some players came in after a very long season and for me this was my first game in a month. I’m happy that we did what we needed to and got the win.”
Manor Solomon had Israel’s first chance right out of the gate, but his effort went out while Vladmir Jovovic’s attempt in the area at Israel’s shot stopper Itamar Nitzan just went by the post early on. Jovovic again was busy in the Israel box but his shot went out as Yunes Malade who was making his blue-and-white debut tried a 16 meter scorcher but the ball went over the bar as the half ended goalless.
Ofri Arad headed home a terrific pass from captain Bibras Natcho but the central defender was ruled to be offside in the 49th minute. In the 60th minute coach Willi Ruttensteiner made a pair of substitutes as the Austrian introduced Mohammad Abu Fani and Liel Abada in favor of Bibras Natcho and Malade as the changes world wonders.
Abu Fani sent Eran Zahavi a fabulous long ball that the striker put home and a minute later Abu Fani once again worked his magic when he freed up Manor Solomon who slammed the ball behind the Montenegrin keeper Miloš Dragojević for a quick 2-0 lead in the 68th minute.
Israel made two more personnel changes as goal scorer Solomon and Arad made way for Gadi Kinda and Ofir Davidzada respectively. Montenegro were able to cut the lead to 2-1 when Joel Abu Hana was called for a questionable foul in the box that allowed Israeli league veteran Fatos Beciraj the chance to score form the penalty spot.
Abu Fani was busy again as he sent a perfect pass to Zahavi but he nodded the ball into the bar, however, a minute into injury time Gadi Kinda polished off Montenegro with a tremendous strike from 20 meters out to seal the victory for Israel.