Israel 3 (Hemed 24, Ben Basat 40, Gershon 70)
Portugal 3 (Bruno Alves 2, Helder Postiga 72, Fabio Coentrao 90)
Portugal secured a dramatic 3-3 draw with Israel in Tel Aviv, with Fabio Coentrao scoring on a last-gasp block of a goal-line clearance attempt to ensure that the two remained level on points in the qualifying group. Bruno Alves headed Paulo Bento’s side in front after two minutes, but the hosts continued to press and drew level through Tomer Hemed before Ben Basat fired Israel in front.
The hosts doubled their advantage in the 70th minute, when Rami Gershon headed past Rui Patricio. Helder Postiga’s 72nd-minute, close-range tap brought Portugal back within a goal before Coentrao salvaged the day with his equalizer.
Portugal started the brighter of the two teams and went ahead early, with Alves rising highest to meet Miguel Veloso’s corner and head past Dudu Aouate. Coentrao then saw his low effort comfortably saved by the Israel goalkeeper as Portugal dominated proceedings early on. Israel looked to force their way back into the encounter, but Basat could only fire wide of Patricio’s near post after winning his side a free kick having been played in by Bibras Natcho. The hosts had been on the backfoot for much of the encounter, but drew level midway through the first half courtesy of Hemed, who turned expertly and fired past Patricio.
Portugal continued to dominate and should have found themselves 2-1 up with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, with Postiga doing well to hold off the challenge of Tal Ben Haim, but the striker could only find the outside of the post with the goal gaping. The visitors were made to pay for Postiga’s miss as Israel took the initiative five minutes before halftime, Basat was played in exquisitely by Hemed before the former smashed past Patricio and into the roof of the net. Portugal began the second half the stronger, but it was Basat who came closest after the restart after the Israeli fired wide from close range.
Postiga saw his effort blocked superbly by Eitan Tibi before Veloso fired inches over from the edge of the 18-yard box as Portugal pressed for an equalizer. Carlos Martins was introduced on the hour mark and almost made an immediate impact having come close twice after being substituted on, first firing over with a close range volley before he forced Aouate into action, with the Israeli equal to his long-distance strike. Eli Guttman’s side then doubled their advantage with 20 minutes remaining as Natcho’s corner found Gershon unmarked to head past Patricio.
Portugal did not roll over and accept defeat, however, and got back into the encounter when Postiga was on hand to tap in from Cristiano Ronaldo’s ball across the Israel six-yard box. Aouate did well to deny Postiga before Coentrao netted his dramatic last-second equalizer on the doorstep, stunning the Israelis who were poised to go three points clear of the Portuguese and instead settled to remain level on points behind Russia in Group F.
Northern Ireland-Russia POSTPONED
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