Israel and Iceland played to a 2-2 draw to open up the UEFA Nations League campaign as the sides split the points up at Sammy Ofer Stadium. The Blue & White grabbed a 1-0 lead via Liel Abada’s first goal with the national team but the visitors scored a pair of markers to take a 2-0 advantage. However, with time running out, Shon Weissman headed home the tying goal to earn a point in head coach Alon Hazan’s debut on the sidelines.
With just a tad over 13,000 fans in the stands, the Israel National Team and Iceland began the match off with few chances as they each tried to feel out their opponent. However, the Blue & White were able to break they ice when Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Manor Solomon sent Celtic starlet Liel Abada a perfect pass that the striker put by Iceland keeper Runar Runarsson to take a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute.
But just as the half was nearing its end, Israel shot sniper Ofir Marciano fumbled the ball and Thorir Helgason thumbed it home to head into the break all knotted up at 1-1. The visitors came out of the break searching for a go ahead goal which is what they received from Arnor Sigurdsson to go up 2-1 in the 53rd minute.
However, substitute Shon Weissman who was just named Real Valladolid’s Player of the Season took a Doron Leidner cross and nodded it behind a helpless Runarsson to earn a split of the points.
“We played against a tough national team and it wasn’t all in our control,” Israel Head Coach Alon Hazan said. “We had a good game and we played well in transition. The players gave their all and we had enough chances but we can’t be too greedy as the result reflects the two sides’s play.”
“I am very disappointed in myself but I am happy with the goal,” Shon Weissman said. “The fans were with us when we were down 2-1 but it’s rough. We will take the result onto our next two games on the road. I am very happy to be here and I am in good shape. I want to lead and influence this team and when I came on in the 60th minute I scored one goal out of three chances. I won’t sleep tonight but tomorrow is another day. We have a great team here and I am excited to do the best that I can.”
Israel keeper Ofir Marciano also spoke about the draw, “I made a mistake that I shouldn’t have made and it hurts but I was there when I needed to be. It’s part if the game and we will learn from this. I have mixed feelings as this is a very tight group and results will be close as we saw today. We could have lost so to have drawn 2-2 is a positive. We will take the good from the game and move on. Now we are on to Albania.”