The Israel Men’s National Soccer Team recorded their first win in Euro 2024 qualifying in dramatic fashion as Oscar Gloukh scored deep into second half injury time to snatch a 2-1 victory over Belarus in Budapest.
The blue-and-white fell behind early as the hosts grabbed a 1-0 lead via Max Ebong but a Shon Weissman penalty late in the second half along with Gloukh strike via a corner handed Alon Hazan’s squad the 3-points. The win allowed Israel to stay in qualification contention after only having picked up 1 point in their opening pair of games as they will have a chance to take another 3-points on Monday back in Jerusalem when they face Andorra.
Israel now finds itself in third place in Group I with 4 points as Switzerland in first place with 9 points after slipping by Andorra 2-1 on the road while Romania is in 2nd place with 7 points after having played to a goalless draw with Kosovo. Following Monday’s match in the Holy Land, Israel will then play Romania and Belarus in September.
“Some people thought we would come into the game against Belarus and have an easy time against an opponent that isn’t considered to be a power,” Hazan began after the win. “But I knew full well that this was going to be a tough clash. we created enough chances but I told the guys to have patience which was the key. I’m happy with the character we showed and now we have to get ready for Andorra.”
Hazan also spoke about Oscar Gloukh who did not feature in the starting lineup but came on as a substitute and scored the winning goal, “Oscar is a kid and we forget that sometimes. He did some incredible things and while he has played a number of years he is still very young and is just getting his feet wet in Austria. He has a ton of talent and while he lost some balls he kept his confidence and kept his head up. He’s at the top level of the sport but again he’s still just a kid.”
The Andorra game will be played in Jerusalem, however, the Israel Football Association has been dealing with threats that Beitar Jerusalem fans will try to cause issues as a protest at the national team game due to penalties levied on the club after the pitch invasion from the Israel State Cup. With that in mind, Hazan tried to explain why the upcoming game is critical and the game Andorra would not be the correct time to launch a protest.
“We have heard what their plans are and I hope that Beitar Jerusalem fans understand the importance of the game for the State of Israel, not just for the national team. Beitar fans may be upset at the IFA and the national team is associated with them, but in reality it belongs to the country as a whole. If they damage the national team that will cause damage to Israeli soccer and the State. I really hope that they understand that there are better ways to change things and ones that are also less violent.”
“This was a really tough loss for us,” Belarus head coach Georgy Kondratyev said. “We left everything on the pitch. We conceded on a penalty and a goal from a corner right the end so it’s really painful. I don’t believe Israel deserved the penalty. I can’t complain about the player’s efforts. We will battle for every point that is left and we can see how far we can go.”
The game’s hero Oscar Gloukh also reflected on the game that was, “Scoring off a corner has never happened to me before and sometimes you need these types of gaol in order to win the game. I had a ton of confidence coming into the game off of the bench as we have players who can start or come on as a substitute. We want to do our utmost for the country. Every game in our group will be difficult and we will do our best to make it out of our group. I hope that we will be able to do just that.”
Both sides traded chances early on in the game which was being played in Hungary due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, but it was Belarus who broke the ice first when Max Ebong came into the box with a terrific individual effort as he laced the ball right behind Omri Glazer to take a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Liel Abada had an opportunity via a header off a Dasa ball to draw even just ahead of the halftime break but his chance came up short and Muhamed Abu Fani’s rebound attempt also didn’t find the back of the goal as the squad’s opportunity ahead into the break came up short.
Following a number of substitutes just as the second half began, chances were few until it looked as if Israel had drawn even on an own goal, however, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruled the strike was offside.
Following a rough foul on Gaby Kanichowsky in the box very late in regulation time, Israel was issued a penalty that Shon Weissman converted in the 85th minute while Gloukh’s corner kick found its way past the Belarus keeper in the 93rd minute as the blue-and-white snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat.