Israel fell to Denmark 2-0 as the blue-and-white opened up 2022 World Cup qualifying with a disappointing result in front of 5,000 fans at Bloomfield Stadium. Martin Braithwaite beat keeper Ofir Marciano in the first half while Jonas Wind added an insurance marker in the second half to take the 3-points.
“This was a good performance by us against a very good National Team especially at the start of the second half,” Israel head coach Willi Ruttensteiner said following the defeat. “After the first half we pressed and I can say that if we would have drawn even at 1-1 the game would have totally been different. But Denmark is very dangerous on their counter attacks and at the end the better team won.”
“Perhaps if we scored we would have looked better,” explained Eran Zahavi. “The responsibility isn’t just on the defense. We are one National Team for good and for bad. This was the first time we didn’t score in a very long time, we have to look ahead as we have a game on Monday.”
Manor Solomon also spoke about the match, “We played against a quality National Team and there is a reason why they are 12th in the world. They are excellent both offensively and defensively. We began the second half really well but we couldn’t score during those good minutes.”
The up and coming star commented on having fans in the stands as well, “It was a great feeling and although it was only 5,000 it was like 30,000. At home with our Israeli fans, it’s amazing and we will need them on Sunday.”
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said following the game, “I think [Braithwaite] was good today. He was dangerous and used his speed to get behind the defence as he should. He dropped too far towards the midfield in the beginning – he can do that, but he also needs to get back up front and break their defensive line.”
Denmark striker Martin Braithwaite also commented, “If any of the players forgot how it is to have fans in the stadium, they were reminded today. It was fantastic to feel that – even, that fans were booing me. It sounds strange, but it makes me happy.”
Israel entered their first International matchup of 2021 against a Denmark team that they had beaten only once back in 1978 while having lost seven times, most recently in a 2006 friendly.
Head Coach Willi Ruttensteiner’s starting lineup against the 12th ranked country in the world included shot stopper Ofir Marciano, defenders Eli Dasa from Vitesse, Beer Sheva’s Hatem El Hamed, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eitan Tibi, Celtic’s Nir Bitton and Sun Menachem from Maccabi Haifa. Captain Bibras Natcho from Partizan Belgrade, Maccabi’s Dor Peretz, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Manor Solomon will man the midfield while Hoffenheim’s Munas Dabbur and PSV’s Eran Zahavi will play up front.
On the other side of the pitch, Kasper Hjulmand’s starting XI featured Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel, AC Milan defender and captain Simon Kjær, Atalanta defensive back Joakim Mæhle and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen. In the midfield were Inter Milan star Christian Eriksen, Dortmund’s Thomas Delaney, Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Valencia’s Daniel Wass while on the attack, Martin Braithwaite from Barcelona, Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen and Copenhagen’s Jonas Wind will try to cause Israel’s defenders all kinds of problems.
Daniel Wass had Denmark’s first chance of the game in the 2nd minute but his blistering shot off the right wing just went wide of the goal. However, ten minutes later Martin Braithwaite took a Jonas Wind backwards head flick off a Pierre-Emile Højbjerg long pass, turned defender Eitan Tibi and then chipped the ball over a helpless Ofir Marciano for a 1-0 lead.
Eran Zahavi’s header off a Hatem El Hamed cross was saved by Kasper Schmeichel while Wind’s header off a Christian Eriksen corner was punched away by Marciano in the 27th minute. Monas Dabbur had chance in the 42nd minute but his driving attempt went wide right of the goal as the half ended with Denmark ahead 1-0.
Eli Dasa tried to get Israel level in the 48th minute but his attempt came up short while Braithwaite’s chance at the other end of the pitch was smothered by an oncoming Marciano. Manor Solomon and Eran Zahavi had back to back chances to no avail as the blue-and-white continued to search for the equalizer.
Jonas Wind took the wind out of Israel’s sails in the 67th minute as the striker’s left footed volley off an errant Hatem El Hamed header in the box gave Denmark a 2-0 advantage. Braithwaite hit the woodwork as Denmark looked to add another goal but had to settle for two on this night as they wrapped up the victory.
The trio of Group F World Cup qualifiers will continue on Sunday when Israel will host Scotland at Bloomfield Stadium on Sunday night at 21:45 as they will welcome in a number of very familiar faces. The blue-and-white have played the Tartan Army five times since 2018 in UEFA Nations League and UEFA European Championship action as each side has won two games a piece with one draw.
Steve Clarke who has been in charge of the Scots the past three clashes will once again be on the sidelines while his side will be captained by Liverpool left back Andy Robertson. Other important squad members will include, Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney, Manchester United centre back Scott McTominay, Aston Villa’s John McGinn and Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong will man the midfield as Newcastle winger Ryan Fraser will be on the attack and Derby County shot stopper David Marshall will feature in goal.
One of the most interesting stories out of the Scotland camp is that of Southampton striker Che Adams who will be making his national team debut during this window of matches. Adams played for the England Under-20 team in 2015 and had rebuffed efforts in the past to join Scotland due to the nationality of a maternal grandparent. However, this time around the Leicester native has committed his international future with the Tartan Army and could be a key component to their success.
Following Scotland’s visit, Willi Ruttensteiner’s team will head to Chișinău to face Moldova on Wednesday night. The last time the two sides played was in 2017 as the clubs played to a 1-1 draw in an International Friendly. Prior to that contest, the squads competed in 2010 World Cup qualifiers when Israel won both matches as they hold an all-time record of 3 wins, 3 draws and 0 losses in six games.
The next window of qualifiers will take place in September 2021 when Israel will play Austria and Faroe Islands for the first time in this campaign.